Following consideration of the High Court’s decision in the case of Kimathi and others v Foreign and Commonwealth Office by Colm Nugent, barrister of Hardwicke chambers, MAPS Medical Reporting digs deeper into the importance of fully researching expert witnesses.
The defendant’s expert witness gave evidence which the claimant believed was contradicted by the contents of a book he had written some 16 years before.
The book had not been referred to before in the case, either as part of the evidence or disclosure. The claimants’ lawyers didn’t become aware of the existence of the book and alleged contradictory views until a very advanced stage of the case. In fact, it only came to light after the expert witness had completed giving his evidence.
For technical reasons the Judge decided that it was too late to bring the book in as evidence, but it is clear that this was a decision which could have been made differently in other circumstances and perhaps, with a better-prepared application to the court.
The important point from an expert witness perspective is to ensure that they make their opinion clear and reference any relevant published work, including their own. If their opinion in the current case is at odds with past work, it is appropriate to address that directly and explain it, so as to avoid any adverse implication being suggested.
From a solicitor’s point of view, the Judge made it clear that research of an expert witness’ background and authorship, at least to the extent of a simple Google search, was to be expected. The failure to do this by the claimants’ lawyers clearly weighed on the Judge’s mind when making their decision.
The importance of researching expert witnesses
“At MAPS Medical Reporting, we are aware of the wider responsibilities facing our expert witnesses and the preparation that is needed for their evidence to be properly presented,” says managing director, David Stothard.
“As a medico legal report provider, we are aware the other parties will be looking into the background of our expert medical witnesses. It is essential that experts think carefully about the content of their CVs and any work they have published in areas within their expertise.
“We emphasise the need our expert witnesses have to proactively highlight any conflicts or possible issues to the instructing solicitor.
“MAPS Medical Reporting has a well-established medico-legal expert witnesses directory who are familiar with the requirements of Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules, as well as their wider duties to the court. Our expert medical witnesses are experienced in presenting their evidence so as to ensure that they fully meet the court’s requirements.”
Finding an expert witness
MAPS Medical Reporting provides quick access to reputable experts and high quality, specialist medico legal reports, to provide its customers with robust medical evidence, to expedite both treatment services for the victim and the claims process.