Contentious issues in legal proceedings are sometimes resolved with the help of an expert witness. For example, in matters involving heavy vehicle crashes, the load may have been improperly secured, the brakes may have been out of adjustment, or the driver may have taken a bend at too great a speed. In such cases, it requires specialised knowledge to determine the cause of an incident and to apportion blame. By getting an expert witness involved early in the proceedings it may be possible to avoid a court appearance, or to at least reduce the number of issues in contention.
Advantia’s expert reports have often helped the parties to circumvent court proceedings or provided much-needed clarity to the judge.
How does one use an expert witness?
An expert is engaged by the solicitor acting for one of the parties. The solicitor briefs the expert in writing and asks for his/her written opinion on a series of contentious issues. The expert’s report may be disclosed to the other party, in which case it becomes evidence. If each party engages its own expert, each expert may be asked to give an opinion on the other expert’s report.
The experts may even be asked to meet and decide on which points are mutually agreed and which remain in dispute. If the matter proceeds to court, each party’s barrister may choose to cross-examine the other party’s expert. In some cases the judge may find it helpful to directly question both experts simultaneously. If expert witnesses are knowledgeable and act with integrity, their involvement in the proceedings will be highly productive.