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What is an expert witness?

What is an expert witness?

An expert witness is someone who possesses the specialist education, training, knowledge, skills, or experience to be considered as an expert in a court of law. Their role is to give an independent opinion using their expertise and the facts or evidence provided to assist in a judgement being reached. Key areas of responsibility of expert witnesses:

• Engage their expertise to provide an opinion on a specific subject in line with their instructions. They will not assist legal representatives to advocate a case
• Prepare an Expert Witness Report containing truthful, impartial, and independent opinion using their area of specialist knowledge to be used as evidence
• Produce a report in line with the rules of the Court or tribunal which will be shared with all parties in a dispute

The role of an expert witness

Given the complexity of medical and clinical evidence, an expert witness adds great value to the legal process by bringing clarity to their specific clinical field of expertise that most people know very little or nothing about and communicating to the Court in a way that enables it to make a ruling.

Expert evidence is key to proving the extent of an injury or financial loss in a personal injury claim, or breach and causation in medical negligence cases. The credibility of an expert witness will be determined by the quality of evidence and here they draw upon their experience to add weight to the facts of the case and an examination of the evidence to provide an objective and accurate opinion.

Input from an expert witness can lead to early resolution of a dispute or assist in the determination of damages awarded from the outcome of a case. They may be required to give testimony in court proceedings or tribunals and participate in case conferences between legal representatives of claimants and defendants.

 

Appointing an expert witness

Beyond specialist clinical or medical knowledge, our experienced medico-legal expert witnesses understand the impact their expertise has in a legal claims environment which entitles their opinion to be heard alongside evidence of fact.

Expert testimony is almost always required in cases of malpractice or negligence to help the Court determine liability. A medico-legal expert witness can be instructed by either party involved in a dispute and give opinion on whether the defendant breached the necessary standard of care expected and whether that breach caused or contributed to the claimants’ injuries or losses.

Regardless of who they are appointed by the duty of an expert witness is to assist the Court on matters within their expertise. Medico-legal expert reports must comply with the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) for use in UK Courts and there are guidelines stating reports must be clear, succinct, independent, and well presented.

It’s critical the appropriate expert is selected for your case, and we have an extensive national panel of clinical professionals to ensure the right skills and experience are aligned with the needs of your case.

Types of expert witness

 Courts in England and Wales recognise three types of expert witness:

  • Those instructed by one of the parties in a dispute are called Party Appointed Experts (PAE). The primary duty is to the Court, and this overrides any obligation to the party who issued instructions or is paying the fee.
  • If one expert witness is appointed and instructed by the parties in a dispute, they are referred to as a Single Joint Expert (SJE). As with a PAE, the primary duty is to the Court.
  • An Expert Advisor, also called a Shadow Expert, is appointed by one party in a dispute in an advisory capacity. Experts of this kind are not covered by the CPR, does not have the same duty to the Court and is unlikely to give evidence.

Once delivered, the expert witness report is open to cross-examination, so it’s imperative the expert witness retains complete independence, regardless of the pressures of litigation, and keeps opinion within matters material to the dispute.

Bush & Co expert witness services

Bush & Co. can provide expert witness services to assist with personal injury and clinical negligence proceedings related to several clinical specialisms including nursing and midwifery, physiotherapy, and catastrophic injury.

  • Experienced - over 35 years providing expert witness services to claimant and defendant solicitors and insurers.
  • Professional – a team of more than 70 clinical specialists across the UK with an average of 23 years’ experience.
  • Expertise - Quantum Expert Witness and Liability Expert Witness reports created for several specialist clinical areas including care, care/OT and care/equipment reports, loss of service reports, accommodation reports, wrongful birth reports and speech and language therapy reports.
  • Client focused – we are proud to have a 97% overall client satisfaction rate.
  • Flexible - assessments undertaken to suit client, either face-to-face or via phone/video call.

Our many associates, including our nurse and care expert witnesses apply objectivity when preparing reports, examining the available evidence to give expert independent opinion on the standard of care given or received and its impact on the claimant.