A more recent version of these Expert Witnesses notes – written by Oxford students – is available here.
The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Principles of Civil Procedure Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:
Expert Witnesses?Adjudication on expert matter than by non-expert judges Exception to prohibition on opinion evidence o Expert evidence generally based on evidence presented to the expert, or assumptions --- rather than on actual observations o Usually made to order o Unlike ordinary witnesses, the number of possible witnesses is limited only by the number of experts in the field
? permits imbalance between parties with different resources
? permits evidence-shopping o IE Experts are not really "witnesses" in the traditional sense Need for experts --- courts not well equipped to resolve disputes without them
Role of the Expert Witness
? Ikarian Reefer per Creswell J --- duties and responsibilities of witnesses are: o Must be and must be seen to be independent o Must be unbiased and should not assume role of advocate o Clear description of the facts or assumptions on which evidence is based o Make clear when outside expertise o qualify opinion with level of certainty o Must indicate if change of opinion o All information on which opinion based should be disclosed to the other side
? Role o Assisting court to understand & assess the factual evidence o Generate evidence --- eg testing samples, DNA, conducting studies ---
contributing to factual record o Provide opinion --- bias is meaningless unless it is extraneous (financial) in nature
? Overriding duty is to assist the court in understanding the evidence
? No immunity from suit for expert witnesses: Jones v Kaney  UKSC 13 (expert admitted to signing off on joint evidence report without reading it) o Advocates required to be partisan <> witnesses required to be unbiased o Deters credible expert witnesses --- concerned about liability o Duty to client is of due care, skill & diligence --- same as duty to court Qualification
? USSC Daubert --- must be (a) scientific knowledge and (b) will assist trier of fact o Whether opinion / theory / technique --- has been tested, subjected to peer review, known or potential error rate, general acceptance can be important & known technique which attracts minimal support can properly be viewed with scepticism o Admissibility more important when you have a jury?
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