Guntrip v Cheney Coaches Ltd

Posted on 14/03/2012 · Posted in Expert Witness

Changing experts, ‘expert shopping’

The Claimant suffered personal injuries when driving a coach in the course of employment and commenced proceedings against his employer. The Claimant was granted permission by the court to use a specific named expert to help establish his case. The report produced for the Claimant was not particularly supportive of the Claimant’s position, and the joint statement later produced by the Claimant’s and Defendant’s experts was highly detrimental to the Claimant. The Claimant wanted to instruct another expert.

The Court of Appeal was unhappy with the prospect of ‘expert shopping’ and said that the practice should be discouraged. It insisted that the court would only agree to a change of expert if a good reason was put forward as to why a party wished to change its expert. The fact that the expert has a change of opinon would not be enough. In the Court of Appeal’s view the expert’s duty was to the court, and there could be many good reasons why an expert would change his view, such as if fresh evidence was adduced. Furthermore, it was suggested that in determining an application the court must have regard to the overriding objective of the Civil Procedure Rules, and that includes ensuring that both of the parties are treated justly, and ensuring proportionate action is taken.

On the facts the Claimant was not allowed to change its expert, the Court of Appeal upholding the decision of the district judge who had stated that a change would cause delay and the incurrence of extra costs, and would lessen chances of a fair trial. Significantly here, the joint statement did not even suggest a total change of stance by the expert who had not been overly supportive of the Claimant in his initial report.

Link: Guntrip v Cheney Coaches Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 392


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