“AN EXPERT WITNESS IS NOT HELPING THE COURT BY TRYING TO MAKE THE EVIDENCE FIT THEIR OWN CONCLUSIONS”: JUDGE FINDS EXPERT “UNPROFESSIONAL AND UNACCEPTABLE”

In LCC v V & B [2023] EWFC 268 HHJ Booth commented on one of the expert witnesses.  He found that the evidence given involved conjecture.  The criticism of the expert is robust.

 

“An expert witness is not helping the Court by trying to make the evidence fit their own conclusions. Dr Elhassan Magid should have deferred to Dr Williams on this point. Dr Elhassan Magid’s evidence was not credible. I am afraid that I am driven to the conclusion that his evidence was verging on the dishonest and was, certainly, unprofessional, and unacceptable from a court-appointed expert witness. I do not understand his motives, but he was not applying his first duty to assist the Court.”

WEBINAR ON EXPERT EVIDENCE

Over the course of 2023 we saw many cases in which the conduct of experts and those who instruct them came under close scrutiny  and criticism in the courts.  I am presenting a webinar on the 24th January 2024 reviewing cases on experts reported during the previous 12 months (this includes cases decided early in 2024). The webinar looks at the key cases in detail and considers the practical implications for practitioners and experts.

Booking details are available here.

THE CASE

The judge was considering the evidence in which a young child suffered injury.  There was a difference between medical experts as to how the injury could have been sustained.

THE JUDGE’S OBSERVATIONS ON THE EXPERT EVIDENCE
    1. The fracture to the left was in the area in front of the ear. That fracture was depressed being what Dr Williams referred to as a buckle fracture. That fracture would indicate that the scalp met something that was standing out, so not a smooth surface, but something projecting from the surface to cause that depression or buckle. According to Dr Williams, the force required for each of those two fractures would be very considerable.
    1. The only possible explanation for the two fractures to have occurred simultaneously was for her skull to be crushed between two hard surfaces. That could not be ruled out as an explanation but was difficult to envisage.
    1. Dr Elhassan Magid maintained his position that both fractures could have been caused in one incident. His starting premise was that the father was giving an accurate account of a fall, where he threw B up in the air as he fell, and, Dr Elhassan Magid conjectured, she could have hit something else, such as the wall, before hitting the floor.
    1. The father did not describe a second contact. There was nothing near where he said B landed that could have resulted in a second contact. Dr Elhassan Magid did not explain how two separate contacts was consistent with the forces needed to cause both fractures.
    1. Dr Elhassan Magid’s opinion relied on his own conjecture. There was no evidence to support Dr Elhassan Magid’s conjecture.
    1. An expert witness is not helping the Court by trying to make the evidence fit their own conclusions. Dr Elhassan Magid should have deferred to Dr Williams on this point. Dr Elhassan Magid’s evidence was not credible. I am afraid that I am driven to the conclusion that his evidence was verging on the dishonest and was, certainly, unprofessional, and unacceptable from a court-appointed expert witness. I do not understand his motives, but he was not applying his first duty to assist the Court.
  1. I unhesitatingly accept the evidence of Dr Williams, supported by Dr Hall.