Supreme Court Guidance on Admissibility and use of Expert Evidence

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The Supreme Court has recently given clear guidance on when expert evidence is allowed in court.
Who would have thought that a bruised wrist from a fall on an icy footpath in 2010 would have led to the Supreme Court giving useful guidance on when expert evidence would be allowed in a court. As the case started in Scotland, the judges refer to skilled witnesses but that's the Scottish for expert witnesses. The principles apply throughout the UK.

In essence, the judges recognised the need to regulate expert evidence which can be highly influential and difficult for the other side to test unless assisted by their own expert. They set out guidance regarding the admissibility of expert evidence, the responsibilities of the legal teams and the court in relation to such evidence, and othe importance of economy in
litigation. They said experts may give both pinion evidence and expert evidence of fact, drawing on their own knowledge and experience of the subject matter including the work and literature of others.

The four considerations are set out at para.44 of the judgment. Ultimately it's for the court to decide, but as an expert you should be able to answer yes to all four:

  • Will your expert evidence assist the court in its task?
  • Do you have the necessary knowledge and experience?
  • Are you impartial in your presentation and assessment of the evidence?
  • Is there a reliable body of knowledge or experience to underpin your evidence?

If you are unsure, you should discuss the matter with your instructing solicitor.

You should read the full judgment as there is helpful guidance in respect of each of the four considerations. Full details are on the Supreme Court website.

This article was first published  by Mark Solon in on 24th March 2016