Odedra v Ball

Posted on 04/07/2012 · Posted in Expert Witness

Disclosure of expert reports

The Defendants allowed heating oil to escape onto the Claimants’ land. The Claimants later sought to sell their land but the only offer they received (for £402,500) was withdrawn when it became clear that contamination caused by the leak had not been remedied.  The Claimants alleged nuisance, negligence and a breach of Rylands v. Fletcher. They claimed damages of £402,500 or £402,500 less any residual value in the property.

The court allowed each party to call an expert valuer. The Claimants’ expert prepared 2 reports, only 1 of which was disclosed to the Defendants.  They claimed that the undisclosed report was prepared exclusively to assist them in considering the Defendants’ evidence. The Defendants contended that unless both reports were disclosed the Claimants could not rely on their expert’s evidence at all.

The TCC said that it was not necessary for the Claimants to disclose both reports, and it distinguished the Weatherspoon case upon which the Defendants relied. It stated that while Weatherspoon concerned 2 reports produced consecutively by 2 different experts, this case concerned 2 reports produced at the same time by just 1 expert. The Court expressed the view that in certain situations disclosure of all reports would be required as a condition of relying on expert evidence in proceedings. However, sometimes it would be unjust to require such extensive disclosure. For example, it might be incorrect to order the disclosure of all draft reports and reports drafted when there was confusion over what the expert was being asked.

Link: Odedra v Ball [2012] EWHC 1790 (TCC)

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