Huntley v Simmons

Posted on 09/02/2010 · Posted in Expert Witness

Expert evidence is evidence to be assessed alongside all other evidence

The Claimant was brain damaged in a car accident. Liability was not disputed by the Defendant and the issue was the amount of damages. The judge made a Periodical Payment Order in part to cover the Claimant’s future care. The result of not granting a full award was that the Claimant would receive a lot less than he had been contending for. The judge said that he would also make a lump sum award.

It was contended by the Claimant that he needed 24 hour care and that this position would not ameliorate. This view was supported by his expert Ms Clark-Wilson. The report had not supported 24 hour care, but the expert professed to support that stance by the time of trial. Neuro-psychiatrists and psychologists also agreed in a joint statement. The Claimant said that the judge could not disregard this.

The judge stated that the Claimant showed a misunderstanding of the role of expert evidence. He stated that evidence of experts is important but is only evidence which the judge is required to assess alongside all other evidence. Ultimately issues of fact and assessment would be for the judge. He went on to state that if there is no evidence to contradict an expert’s evidence the judge would need a very good reason for not accepting it, and the judge must not take on the role of expert and give evidence himself. Where a joint statement is given, any party is free to express the opinion that the joint statement is simply evidence that must be assessed as part of all the evidence.

Link: Huntley v Simmons [2010] EWCA Civ 54

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