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UCL Consultants Ltd
The Network Building
97 Tottenham Court Road
London W1T 4TP
Tel: +44 (0)207 679 9796
Published: Jul 22, 2014 10:27:11 AM
Published: Jun 5, 2014 2:25:24 PM
Published: May 2, 2014 4:08:25 PM
Published: May 2, 2014 4:08:25 PM
Expert Witness Services
We have some of the world’s leading experts in their field who can act as expert witnesses in legal disputes.
Our academics have fulfilled this role in a wide range of areas, including:
- patent disputes
- civil litigation
- forensic testing
At UCL Consultants we can quickly identify UCL academics to meet your needs.
Provision of expert witness advice to external clients
Some members of our academic community provide expert witness services to external clients. These clients are typically law firms and the work is commonly in relation to litigation proceedings. It’s important therefore to note recent developments with regard to immunity from liability for an individual acting as an expert witness; to make you aware of the potential risks to which this kind of activity can expose you and finally to set out the potential options for protecting yourself from such risk.
An expert witness has a different status in court proceedings to that of a simple ‘witness of fact’. Significant reliance is placed on the evidence that he or she may give and so there are corresponding obligations to be aware of when undertaking this role. The expert has a duty to the party engaging him or her and an overriding duty to the court and consequently he or she must be familiar with the legal framework which sets out this duty - in civil proceedings this will be the Civil Procedure Rules Part 35 and in a criminal context, the Criminal Procedure Rules Part 33.
Expert witnesses have historically enjoyed immunity from liability for negligence arising out of written or oral evidence presented to court. The situation with regard to immunity changed in 2011 with the Supreme Court decision in Jones v Kaney. The facts are briefly, that Dr. Kaney contributed to an expert witness statement which in fact did not accurately reflect her opinion and which partly fell outside of her area of expertise. This negatively impacted on the settlement the claimant was able to reach and so the client sued her. The Supreme Court held that a client may sue his/her own expert in negligence thus ending the blanket immunity enjoyed by expert witnesses up to this point.
It’s therefore essential that those acting or intending to act as expert witnesses consider their circumstances carefully; ensuring that they have the correct indemnity insurance in place to cover this activity. It should not be assumed that existing policies offered by (e.g.) professional bodies automatically offer protection; many in fact come with exclusions specific to expert witness work.
In addition, understanding and securing appropriate contractual cover with the client’s solicitors can offer an increased degree of legal protection and comfort to those undertaking this type of work. One of the key areas is contractually restricting the scope and quantum of potential liability to which the expert witness is exposed. It’s not uncommon for lawyers engaging an expert to simply issue a short letter describing the work that is required from the individual; failing to address important issues such as limiting liability.
Appearing in court and testifying in support of your opinion is by its very nature a testing experience; a good understanding of how to prepare reports and a familiarity with the process of examination and cross-examination will mean that you will be better prepared to provide a professional and robust service.
UCL Consultants Ltd has extensive experience in arranging expert witness engagements for UCL academics both in the UK and overseas jurisdictions. We have a standard, comprehensive set of terms and conditions under which the expert can operate with confidence.
We also provide full professional indemnity insurance and an invoicing and collections service. Furthermore, we run regular training courses on the practicalities associated with being an expert witness.
We may also be able to help you achieve a higher level of fee than you are currently receiving; academic experts often undervalue their services when in fact the very specialist nature of their work gives them greater currency.
If you are doing a significant amount of expert witness work you may wish to consider joining the Expert Witness Institute of which UCL Consultants is also a corporate member.
If you would like to know more, please contact Trish Greenan at UCLC email@example.com
The Institute was launched in November 1996 to service and support experts. It acts as a voice for the expert witness community, supporting experts from all professional disciplines and lawyers who use the services of experts. The Institute functions to encourage, train and educate experts and to improve and maintain their standards and status. The EWI actively works with a wide range of professional bodies to achieve this.
As an expert witness working through UCL Consultants you will be entitled to use the designated logo to indicate that UCL Consultants Ltd is a corporate member of the EWI.