Expert Witness Conference 2022 Debrief

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So, now that the biggest event in the Bond Solon 2022 calendar is behind us, plans for the 2023 Expert Witness Conference are already underway. Over 80 experts have already secured their place for next year’s event (3 November 2023) and the conference working group is in hive mind mode, working on another informative and insightful programme. The Bond Solon team can’t wait to host you at Church House, Westminster, and virtually on Swapcard next year.

But before we wave an official goodbye to 2022, we thought we’d reflect on another successful conference and share some highlights for those of you who were unable to attend.

Friday 4 November 2022

7am: The Bond Solon team arrived at Church House to set up. There were a few bleary eyes and several large black coffees from the Pret across the road, but Church House was already brimming with excitable energy.

8.30am: The first of our delegates entered Church House, climbing the grand staircase into one of our two exhibition rooms, which provided ample opportunity for networking with peers over some light refreshments. There were also a wide range of exhibitors on offer, including our lead sponsor Expert Witness, and also MLAS, Redwood Collections, AvMA, Facilitate Expert Solutions, and Jane James and Associates.

9.40am: Mark Solon opened the conference with a short introduction followed by our renowned Keynote Speakers, The Lord Chief Justice, The Right Honourable The Lord Burnett of Maldon and a Court of Appeal judge, The Right Honourable Lady Justice Carr DBE. The Lord Chief Justice was unable to be there in person, but he very kindly addressed the conference by way of a pre-recorded Q&A with Mark Solon. Many experts appreciated learning about the digital/paperless “movement” that has been taking place across the court system. It was also encouraging to hear how much both speakers value expert witnesses during court hearings, with Lady Justice Carr opening with the following phrase: “experts have never been more needed or played a more crucial role."

10.30am: We then moved swiftly on to a fascinating presentation by Edward Bird, the Managing Director of Solomonic, a research and analytics business which brings a data-driven perspective to litigation decision-making. Ed spoke about the process of extracting relevant data from court judgments, and the key findings that can be extrapolated from that data to enhance expert evidence. For example, that overall, it is harder to impress a judge if you are a defendant expert, and that evidence utility (how helpful the evidence is) and the quality of evidence are most likely to attract criticism from a judge. Experts were impressed by this presentation, with one even stating that he hoped that Ed would return next year with a new set of data!

11.30am: After a brief tea (or coffee) break, we resumed with the Annual Legal Update – a thorough analysis of the new cases and changes to law and procedure over the past year, the principles of which experts are encouraged to apply to their practice. Kathryn Clague is a loyal champion of the conference, and her presentations are always well received. This year proved no exception with feedback including “always my favourite, great update information” and “as always, the highlight of the day”.

12.30pm: In the post Jones v Kaney world, experts are continually interested in how they can protect themselves against litigation, and our final presentation before lunch with professional negligence and disciplinary expert, Helen Evans KC, delivered on just that. Key takeaways included Helen, with her barrister hat firmly on, advising on the types of issues she tends to focus on when cross-examining experts, such as, when source data has been cherry picked and when an expert becomes an advocate in their client’s case. 

After breaking for lunch, where experts mingled over nourishing Tuscan stew and vegetarian shepherd’s pie, the conference dispersed into various parallel sessions on the following topics: medico-legal, family, commercial and criminal.

Unsurprisingly, the medico-legal session was the most popular, but we’ve had some excellent feedback on the other sessions too. I had the pleasure of sitting in on the family session with Elissa Da Costa-Waldman and Andrew Shaw and found that many of the learnings on duty and conduct could apply to experts across the board.

3.30pm: The afternoon continued with a duo of presentations by IT expert, Mark Cunningham-Dickie and construction disputes expert, Mark Mills before the entertaining debate between Amanda Pinto KC and Faisal Osman on whether evidence in person is always better than online – special thanks to Faisal for stepping in at the last minute. The experts thoroughly enjoyed this discussion, and there was a mini debate occurring simultaneously on Swapcard!

5.00pm: The Bond Solon team joined the experts at Church House in toasting the conference with a drinks reception and a presentation for some of the new Cardiff University and Aberdeen University Expert Witness Certificate holders, before we all parted ways in advance of the impending train strikes.

So, there we have it, a whistle-stop tour of this year’s Expert Witness Conference.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to all the speakers, chairs, sponsors, and delegates for making the conference the success that it was – we couldn’t have done it without you.

If you’d like to secure your place for next year’s conference, on Friday 3 November 2023, please visit this page or contact a member of the Bond Solon team on +44 (0)20 7549 2549.

Author: Meera Shah

Photographer: Myron Owusu

Article first published: 15 November 2022