Related Sector: Expert Witness
The section on qualifications and experience in expert court reports often causes concern. While some experts worry, they don’t have enough material, others find it hard to cut material out.
The procedural rules mandate the inclusion of qualifications. The term “qualifications” is probably intended to be interpreted broadly, to include all relevant expertise, whether from academic qualifications or practical experience.
How to approach this section of your report?
There are two principles to follow:
The court must know whether or not the expert is competent (or “qualified”) to give opinion evidence on the issue before it; this part of your report is where you demonstrate that competence and qualification.
Your focus must therefore be on the issues before the court. The court is not going to be interested in the entirety of your career to date, but only the relevant knowledge, skills, experience, training, or education you may have which can help the court reach a decision on those issues.
(ii) Clarity of information
Comments by the President of the Family Court, Sir Andrew McFarlane, in the case of Re:C  EWHC 345 (Fam), related to the issue of an unregulated psychologist giving expert evidence but the principles can be applied across the board by all expert witnesses.
One lesson he draws from the case, at paragraph 97, is:
“the need for clarity as to an expert’s qualifications and/or experience. The more diffuse and unstructured a CV, the less effective it is likely to be in transmitting information crisply and clearly. In this regard, lawyers, magistrates and judges are lay readers. They need to be able to see with clarity, in short form, the underlying basis for an individual’s expertise”.
Sir Andrew identifies registered membership of the relevant regulatory or professional body as a “reliable, one-stop, authentication method” which can be taken as “sufficient qualification to offer an opinion within that field of practice”.
That is, of course, only the starting point and specific further knowledge may additionally be necessary.
Where such additional information is needed it should be set out “shortly and clearly”, to identify any “formal qualifications, posts held and published work” (see paragraph 102 of the judgment).
- Focus on the issues for the court.
- Tailor your CV accordingly.
- Set out relevant formal qualifications and registration status first.
- Think about other relevant experience:
- authorship of relevant published papers or text books;
- relevant training or teaching which you have delivered;
- relevant studies you have carried out; and/or
- relevant panels or committees you have sat on.
- Consider including a short narrative section, describing your current practice and how frequently you deal with the same issue which is now before the court.
- Include relevant qualifications as an expert witness, e.g. the Cardiff University Bond Solon Certificate or the Aberdeen University Bond Solon Certificate, once you have attained them.
- Include everything you have ever done.
- Include hobbies, interests and prizes.
- Run over more than 1 or maximum 2 pages.
- Include every publication ever written.
- State how many times you have given evidence as an expert witness.
Court report CV vs Marketing CV
Remember, there is a difference between a court report CV and a marketing CV to send out to instructing solicitors. Your marketing CV can certainly contain everything that you would put in the court version and the following:
- CPD in your area of expertise.
- CPD as an expert witness (particularly vital for healthcare experts in light of the requirement of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges that those who carry out epert witness work “should” undertake expert witness training).
- How many reports you have written for court. How many times you have given evidence in court.
- Any positive comments from judges on your evidence.
- The balance of instructions you receive from claimants or applicants or the prosecution and from the defence or respondents.
Above all, remember that you are aiming your report CV at the judge, to assure them that you are qualified to give your opinion on the issues before them.
If in doubt, keep it short, relevant, and clear.
Author: Nicholas Deal
This article was first published on 21 June 2023
Waleed Al-Singary - consultant Urologist
22 Jun 2023 13:20
Excellent advice and many thanks
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