JUDICIAL ASSESSMENT OF EXPERT EVIDENCE: NOT SIMPLY A CASE OF WHICH EXPERT IS PREFERRED
There is a short passage in the judgment in Barclays Bank PLC -v- Christie Owen & Davies Limited  EWHC 2351 (Ch) which considers the appropriate approach of the court when considering expert evidence.
“To consider simply whether to prefer one expert over the other is not the correct approach. The Court should make a judgment as to the expert witnesses, the weight to be placed on different aspects of their evidence and the assistance to be derived from it, and then reach its own conclusion…”
Richard Spearman QC (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) was considering a case of alleged negligence on the part of a valuer. The two experts on valuation in the case differed in their approach.
THE APPROPRIATE APPROACH OF THE COURT
“The correct approach for the Court
In her closing submissions, Ms Mirchandani identified the primary task for the Court as one of considering and choosing what it believes to be the true market value of each of CCGN and the Flamingo in its existing use and present condition as a fully-equipped operational entity, having regard to trading potential as at 8 February 2007. She submitted that it is open to the Court to adopt one of two approaches to carrying out this task. First, to agree with the views of one or other of the parties’ expert valuers; or, second, to choose some intermediate (or other) valuation. She submitted that the Court should not attempt the second option because it is fraught with difficulty in this case.
Ms Rushton submitted that the task for the Court, with the assistance of the expert evidence and also the factual evidence, is to reach a view as to (a) the true value of each Arcade as at 8 February 2007 and (b) whether Christie’s valuations were negligently prepared. To consider simply whether to prefer one expert over the other is not the correct approach. The Court should make a judgment as to the expert witnesses, the weight to be placed on different aspects of their evidence and the assistance to be derived from it, and then reach its own conclusion as to the true value and whether negligence is established. In any case where the appropriate approach to valuation is a multiplicand/multiplier one (as opposed to applying straight comparables) this will involve the Court assessing the multiplicand and multiplier, and doing a calculation. Moreover, there is no particular difficulty about following that approach in this case.
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