The sole function of an Expert Witness is to express their opinion based on information that is provided. An expert can be hired in different situations for example at arbitrations, tribunal hearings and litigation.
A witness is a person who must provide sworn evidence to a court of law or tribunal. There are typically two types of witness:
- Expert witnesses – give opinion based evidence which is based upon their set of expertise in addition to evidence of facts.
- Witness of fact – someone who may give evidence but may not normally give opinions.
What Exactly Is an Expert Witness?
They can be any person that has extensive knowledge and experience in a specific field beyond what a ‘normal’ person would know from research. Their duty is to provide the Court with an impartial view on certain elements of the case within their skillset which are in dispute. Within England, the Court must give permission for an Expert Witness to give evidence.
In contrast, an expert advisor is normally appointed by the instructing party to assist in the formulation and preparation of the client’s claim or defence and unlike an Expert Witness does not have an overriding duty to the court. An Expert Witness is impartial and is appointed to provide the Court with a fair judgement and opinion.
What are An Expert Witness’ Responsibilities?
- To offer an expert view on their area of expertise on the subject matter in relation to the case to which they have been appointed to. These are normally contained within a report which will be viewed by the Court and opposing side.
- To offer their opinion to the Court or Tribunal.
- To ensure the report given contains the exact information that the Court rules require. This report will have to be given to the opposing side whilst their expert’s report will be given to you for comment as the Expert Witness.
- At all times follow the procedure and rules of the court or tribunal orders for the full duration of the case.
- Remain truthful, fair and independent whether the views contrast or not with the case.
- An Expert Witness has an overriding duty to the Court (or other Tribunal). This duty supersedes any duty owed to you even though you are still responsible for paying the expert’s fees.
What They Will Not Do?
- Operate as a negotiator.
- Accept the role if it involves a conflict of interest.
- Offer opinion further than their particular skillset.
- Accept any appointment on terms that are conditional on the outcome of the case. Examples of these are success fees or conditional fee arrangements (any form of payment linked to the results of the Case). Conditional terms are incompatible with the expert being seen to be independent.
- Inform the expert of case movements.
- Finalise contracts with the expert in writing before work commences such as payment.
- Back a party’s corner in terms of arguing the case or offering evidence to suggest what the case should revolve around (a legal representative must do this).
When Should Expert Witnesses Be Used
An Expert Witness is required when opinion evidence is needed to assist or offer a solution to a legal dispute. The opinion is often sort out to give a quick resolution to the argument at hand.
Currently, rules encourage the use of a Single Joint Expert who is instructed by both sides. This is because the dispute will then remain fair and an opinion can be given neutrally on the issue in court proceedings. It is, however, still common to see Expert Witnesses who are appointed by one of the parties. Once the report has been issued it is open to the parties to review and investigate any aspect of it – meaning the Expert is required to respond provided they are asked for clarification purposes. The report, as well as evidential answers given before the court, should be used to assist the final judgement on the matter.
Here at Roger Hannah & Co, we offer expert witnesses for a variety of different disciplines. For example, whether your case involves compulsory purchase proceedings, valuation litigation or business rates, our team has a wealth of experience in Mediation, Arbitration Hearings, County Court, High Court, Valuation Tribunal and Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) situations. So, if you are need of any assistance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how one of our experts can help you today.