Jones v Kaney

Posted on 30/03/2011 · Posted in Expert Witness

Experts’ liability for negligence

The Claimant was Mr Jones and the Defendant was Dr Kaney. The Claimant alleged that the Defendant had been professionally negligent when she had acted as an expert in litigation in which the Claimant had been involved. The Claimant contended that the joint statement signed by the Defendant after the experts’ meeting was damaging to his claim and did not reflect the Defendant’s true view. At trial the judge felt he had no option but to strike out the claim because precedent established that expert witnesses were immune from suit.

In the Supreme Court the judges chose to abolish expert immunity from suit. Advocates, who like experts have a duty to the court not to the client, had previously lost their immunity from suit, and there was no compelling reason for expert immunity to remain.

It was suggested that a distinction should be drawn between expert witnesses and ordinary witnesses. While the latter should be immune from suit given the nature of their evidence giving, the former should be held to account for negligence given that they act voluntarily and are rewarded for their assistance through charging fees. The Court was of the view that the risk of being sued would not deter people from acting as experts, that there was nothing to suggest experts would tailor their reports, and nothing to suggest that there would be an increase of vexatious claims against experts.

Link: Jones v Kaney [2011] UKSC 13

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