FOUR INTERESTING POSTS ON EXPERTS: HOW TO CROSS-EXAMINE, HOW TO INSTRUCT, DON’T BE LATE AND – WHATEVER YOU DO – DON’T DO THIS

Expert evidence has been a regular feature on this blog.  Here we are looking at four posts from June 2014 which give rise to issues that resonate today. Advice on cross-examining experts, consideration of instructing experts, an attempt to introduce evidence very late and a classic example of a judge finding that an expert’s evidence was unreliable.

 

“I deprecate this aspect of the claimant’s case in the strongest terms. Save in exceptional circumstances, experts should not embark on this kind of fact-finding exercise, particularly when they perform it so unprofessionally. Matters of fact are for witnesses of fact, not for experts.

CROSS-EXAMINING EXPERT WITNESSES: HINTS, TIPS AND LINKS

This post looks at articles, posts and videos that give the advocate assistance in cross-examining experts. It also looks at some research findings that showed that personal attacks on experts, and rudeness, tend to result in the expert’s testimony being given more credibility.

 

“Another lesson from this research is to remember to be unfailingly polite with all witnesses. You are on display at all  times to the jurors and they will make judgments about you and your case based on how you approach witnesses“.

The link is here. 

 

INSTRUCTING EXPERT WITNESSES: VIEWS FROM “ACROSS THE POND

This looks at guidance in an article in “The Lawyerist”  “Top tips for effectively using retained expert witnesses”. The post makes it clear that not all the advice travels well into the UK context.

All experts, no matter what their field of expertise, seem to have one thing in common – they wait to the last minute to do their work. Prevent this from happening by requesting monthly phone or email progress updates from the expert.

The link is  here. 

 

DON’T BANK ON BEING ABLE TO ADDUCE EXPERT EVIDENCE THREE WEEKS BEFORE TRIAL

This looks at a report of an attempt by a claimant to introduce expert evidence into a case three weeks before trial. (The claimants did not fare well).

The link is here.

 

EXPERT EVIDENCE: THE EXPERT’S ROLE: SEEING THE WOOD FOR THE TREES

This was one of the earliest posts on the conduct of experts on this blog (but far from being the last). It looked at the judgment of Mr Justice Coulson in Stagecoach Great Western Trains -v- Hind & Steel [2014] EWHC 1891 (TCC).  The case related to whether the defendant was negligent in the upkeep of trees that fell onto a railway line. The claimant’s expert had written down (as if verbatim) matters that he “assumed” the defendant had said. It transpired that this was not a transcript at all but the expert’s interpretation of “what she said or would have said”.  Key parts of the expert’s report were trimmed.  The judge was not impressed.

  1. Mr Sheppard said that this trimming was for reasons of space. I regret that I am wholly unable to accept that explanation: indeed, I regard it as so absurd as to constitute further evidence that Mr Sheppard was not acting as an independent expert in accordance with CPR Part 35. It is plain that paragraph 7.5 of Mr Sheppard’s first report was his honest belief, and, as we shall see, it is one that was in accordance with the authorities. But it was clearly detrimental to the claimant’s case (because of the difficulty in pointing to anything which indicated that this apparently healthy tree was, in fact, potentially unsafe). I find that this was the reason why this important passage was omitted from the second report. It again confirmed my view that Mr Sheppard’s expert evidence was unreliable.

The link is here.