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court experts beware...

1 June 2018

The case of Ruffell v Lovatt is a salutary tale of how a party’s expert’s evidence can unravel in court. The Judge severely criticised one of the Claimant’s experts, finding him ill-prepared and ill-equipped to give balanced and impartial evidence (paragraph 94 onwards of the judgment).

The case emphasises that experts must ensure that they:

  • read all the relevant papers and respond to the evidence
  • test the reliability of what they are told - facts and sequences of events can be inadvertently misremembered
  • do not act as an advocate for the party instructing them
  • behave with open minded professional courtesy and respect.

If an expert fails to abide by these requirements then this case shows that the credibility of the expert, and hence his expert opinion, can be seriously undermined to the detriment of the party instructing him.

related opinions

Children Act 1989 – Section 20 and consent

The Supreme Court decision in Williams and another v Borough of Hackney [2018] UKSC 37 was an example of the local authority getting Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 right.

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