Preparing to be an Expert Witness

Expert Witnesses need to understand their legal duties and avoid potential pitfalls

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After years of becoming a specialist in your field, you may be asked to be an expert witness in a court case.

Before you decide whether to accept the work, you need to:

  • clarify your role
  • understand your responsibilities
  • familiarise yourself with the legal process and its expectations.
Specialist Expert Witness Training

We would always recommend going to a specialist training organisation to ensure you are well prepared for your role, including practice of being cross-examined in court. The certification shows instructing solicitors that you take matters seriously, prepares you for the predictable pitfalls that experts can face and can help with marketing your services.

Challenges that Expert Witnesses face

We will briefly highlight a few of the issues raised by experts in Bond Solon’s 2023 Expert Witness Survey, in association with The Law Society Gazette, which show the some of the issues that experts must be aware of and take steps to avoid.

Who is your primary duty to?

Regardless of who engaged you, your primary duty under CPR 35.3 is to the Court. This can create a potential conflict when your invoices are payable by one of the interested parties or where you’d like more work from the instructing solicitor.

How independent is your opinion?

Your evidence should be your own unbiased opinion taking into account all the evidence available to you.

49% of EW say they have felt intimidated to alter their opinions before finalising their report/statement.

56% of EW reported that some experts regularly give an opinion favouring their instructing solicitor, regardless of the evidence.

Have you been provided with sufficient materials to complete your report?

68% of respondents stated that they have experienced cases where the materials provided to them were insufficient, incomplete or they were not provided with the same materials as their counterpart.

Have you been given enough time to prepare your report?

62% of respondents stated that they have experienced cases where they were not given enough time to prepare their report and felt pressured to adhere to very tight timescales.

Other areas covered include fees charged, anonymity in certain cases, the use of AI in preparing reports. Well worth a read!

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Experts working in large firms may be covered by their firm’s existing Professional Indemnity arrangements.

If you have completed a recognised training course for expert witnesses such as those offered by Bond Solon, insurers recognise that you are less likely to face a claim with significantly lower premiums. Indeed, our experience has been that the saving in PI premium can offset some or all of your course costs.

Find out more about Professional Indemnity Insurance for Expert Witnesses.

Isobel Horswell
Marketing & Compliance Exec, Ntegrity

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