Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Expert Witness: Water Engineering: Standards of Professional Practice

The newsletter from Lynden Alexander, who trained me to write clear, concise and reliable expert evidence says:

"It seems that the judiciary is now becoming more vocal in demanding that experts develop and maintain high-standards of professional practice. 

In the High Court, Turner J, Harman v East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust, while addressing issues relating to the care and rehabilitation of a seriously injured child, made the following remarks about the care reports before the court: “…too many expert reports…, are simply too long, largely because they contain too much history and too much factual narrative… I want to send out a clear message: expert reports can in many cases be much shorter than hitherto, and they should be more focused on analysis and opinion than on history and narrative. In short, expert reports must be succinct, focused and analytical.” 

The criticism in the judgement focussed both on the written reports and on the Joint Statement produced by the experts in the case. In the post-Jackson Reforms environment, the conduct of expert witnesses and the quality of the services they provide will require a much higher standard of professionalism from expert witnesses."

I can see why the courts are concerned about these and other issues in view of the quality of most of the expert reports I see produced by other supposed experts in my field.

One of the factors contributing to lengthy reports is however the all too common situation in which expert witnesses who do not understand the need for impartiality want to have not just their own opinion, but their own version of the facts.

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