Expert Witnesses in the UK, for civil cases, operate under Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules.
The expert is require to be independent and, regardless of who is paying the fees, to report to the court.
The duty of the expert is to the court, this overrides any obligation to who is received the instruction from and who pays him.
- An expert can only give evidence or submit a report with the courts permission
- The court can limit the experts fees and expenses
- Expert evidence to be given in a written report
- If written question are put to the expert witness then:
- They can only be put one
- must be put within 28 days of submission of the experts report;
- The questions to the expert must only be for the purpose of clarification of the report. Unless the court allows for further questions or both parties agree to further questions.
- When two or more people want to submit expert evidence on a particular issue, the court can direct that the evidence on that issue is to given by only one expert witness – rather than having two experts provide their own reports. When one person acts for both parties this is referred to as “single joint expert”.
The first reported use of an expert witness in England as in 1782 during litigation relating to the build up of Silt in Norfolk. During this time a Engineer (John Smeaton) gave evidence to the court. The court accepted Smeaton’s evidence.
Common examples of expert witness are: Fingerprints, DNA, and medical evidence.
Though all three of these scientific displinces have had major stories where the evidence provided has latter been discredited.
More recently, computer experts, have started giving evidence in cases commonly referred to as computer forensics, and these have also been discredited on occasion, most recently by Jim Bates.