In my role as a Governor of the Expert Witness Institute (EWI) I am very much looking forward to chairing this year’s Annual Conference, at which the ever increasing demands on experts – from both lawyers and the courts themselves – will be examined.
Given there have been a number of reported cases over the past 12 months in which the evidence provided by expert witnesses has been highlighted – both positively and negatively – I am sure this event will be hugely beneficial to many.
Firstly it is a great opportunity to stay up-to-date with law updates, but perhaps just as importantly it will be a chance to get direct feedback and advice from judges themselves.
We’ve given the event the title of ‘Experts under the Judicial Microscope’ – as that has certainly been the case in recent times.
The day-long event will focus on case examples where the evidence of experts has either been criticised or praised by sitting judges, providing valuable insights into the lessons which can be learned from recently reported decisions on how to, and how not to, give evidence.
Experts must be experts in issues at hand, not experts in giving evidence
In a recent judgement, a judge who was unhappy with the evidence provided by an expert, said that it has to be recognised and accepted that ‘rarely, if ever, is an expert witness wholly objective by the time of the trial, such is the effect of being part of a litigation team for which the goal is, understandably, winning the argument.’
It is a very fair point, so how can an expert avoid becoming yet another advocate on the litigation team and not appear to a judge to actually be more of an ‘expert in giving evidence’, than an expert in the specific issue being examined?
Also, when is evidence from an expert not considered expert evidence but just theories or statements of the obvious – and how is that viewed by those making judgements on the cases before them?
These are the types of questions I expect to be explored and hopefully answered, and I am sure feedback from the panel of experienced judges will prove both fascinating and informative for all who are regularly asked to give evidence in cases as ‘experts’ in their field.
The conference will also provide a platform to meet with lawyers and experts and discuss how the process can become more efficient for all involved, from the time experts are given to the prepare reports to how they are paid for their much valued services and contribution.
GDPR also remains a hot topic and delegates will be ably guided through the maze by Dr John Sorabji, Principal Legal Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice.
Prominent figures will be speaking, with Sir Ernest Ryder, Senior President of Tribunals, providing the keynote address and Andrew Ritchie QC giving an educational piece, whilst there will also be the opportunity for the audience to question some of the EWI governors during ‘Governors Question Time’.
The EWI Certification Programme, which provides a new ‘quality mark’ for those looking for experts and enables experts to set themselves apart from their peers in terms of their knowledge and skills, will also be covered, as will the Institute’s work in Singapore , with opportunities available to secure work in new markets to be explored.
The role of the ‘expert witness’ will always be crucial role in our courts, and all should be done to ensure they can properly fulfil their duties to the court in a streamlined and efficient way, ensuring justice is served.