The Expert Witness
“The expert witness occupies a central position in our system of civil justice. Without expert evidence, judges would be quite incapable of resolving many cases which they have to try. Even the most straightforward personal injury claim often involves an issue of sufficiently technical nature to require the assistance of an expert witness. As litigation becomes more complex, so the need for experts skilled in many diverse disciplines becomes ever more pressing.”
(Lord Justice Dyson, Deputy Head of Civil Justice (2005) in Foreword to Burn’s ‘Successful Use of Expert Witnesses’ Shaw & Sons)
My Expert Witness CV includes:
Reviews of General Practice in Cavendish’s ‘Medicine for Lawyers’ series (by Nigel Ineson)
“… [this book] will find a place on the bookshelves of general practitioners if only to protect them against lawyers.” – Clinical Risk.
“This is a morish medical-text on GP practice and key issues arising from an assortment of complaints that commonly crop up. It is fascinating and written in an easy style. It has bullet point lists and sets out case studies.” – Litigation Journal, Vol 16, No 4, 1997.
I have provided medicolegal opinions in excess of 4000 cases in the last twenty five years, acting for defendants, claimants, the Police and for the Court as a jointly instructed expert, as well as giving expert testimony to the General Medical Council and to several of Her Majesty’s Coroners. I have acted as an external assessor for complaints in General Practice to Her Majesty’s Parliamentary Ombudsman. I have attended conferences with Counsel and with experts (Joint Expert Meetings). This has also on occasion involved giving evidence in Court and being cross-examined.
I was also invited to contribute the volume on General Practice in Cavendish’s ‘Medicine for Lawyers’ series as well as two chapters in Prof Sir Michael Drury’s review of Clinical Negligence published by Radcliffe.
I have lectured on the medico legal aspects of general practice extensively over the last twenty years
I am a Fellow of both the Academy of Experts and of the Expert Witness Institute
Medical Expert Reports:
- In the last 25 years I have been instructed in around 4000 cases
- Roughly 45% claimant, 45% defendant and 10% other (Coroners, Police, Ombudsman)
- My field of expertise is liability and clinical negligence involving General Practitioners
- I do not accept Personal Injury nor Criminal work
Court appearances in last 10 years:
- 13 in High Court
- 8 in Coroners Courts
- 1 to GMC (as an expert)
The Role of the Expert Witness – in a nutshell
The court is the ultimate determiner of whether the witness has the appropriate expertise in any given case
Expert opinion need not be accepted – i.e. a judge or jury is not bound to adopt the views of the expert, even if not contradicted because:
“Expert witnesses, however skilled or eminent, can give no more than evidence. They cannot usurp the function of the jury or Judge sitting as a jury…. Their scientific opinion, if intelligible, convincing and tested becomes a factor (and often an important factor) for consideration along with the hole other evidence in the case, but the decision is for the judge and jury.”
(Lord Cooper in Davie v Magistrates of Edinburgh )
Expert Witness testimony
Lay witnesses may (usually) only give evidence of fact.
Expert witnesses may give evidence of both fact and opinion.
The Judge, in deciding liability, causation and quantum may be helped by the opinion of the expert witness.