Expert Witnesses And Use Of Single Joint Experts Law Essay

By October 28, 2017 Law

Both civil and condemnable instances frequently need reading of complex scientific or medical informations in order to get at a proper determination and guarantee that justness is rendered reasonably. For this there is frequently a demand to utilize experts to construe complex facts objectively and in an indifferent mode, and offer an ‘expert sentiment ‘ . Based on this adept sentiment, the tribunals arrived at the best possible solution. Assuming that the expert informant is competent, it is the tribunal ‘s duty to guarantee that the adept grounds is ‘admissible ‘ . One of the factors that could render adept grounds inadmissible is the presence of prejudice on the portion of the adept informant.

It is hence critical to all concerned that the expert prejudice is identified and remedied. Whilst prejudice is rare, peculiarly as a witting trait, the nature of the adversarial judicial system does predispose to less obvious, elusive and unconscious prejudice. This could turn out fatal to the equity of a test and could ensue in a abortion of justness, with black effects. What is worse, such abortions of justness may non be realised or discovered for several old ages ensuing in irreparable harm to the individual wrongly convicted. It is hence of extreme importance that adept informant should non be biased, and where such prejudice exists, it would be utile nay, even compulsory to hold robust mechanisms to cut down or even extinguish witting prejudice and if possible cut down even unconscious prejudice in adept grounds.

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This essay attempts to measure possible causes of prejudice and likely solutions to cut down these in the expert informant, with peculiar accent on Lord Woof ‘s proposal for a Single Joint Expert and whether this will assist cut down prejudice in an adept informant.

This writer has drawn on the expertness of Deidre Dwyer and her legion learned articles on adept grounds, with peculiar accent on her ‘The causes and manifestations of prejudice in civil expert grounds ‘[ 1 ]and her ‘The effectual direction of prejudice in civil expert grounds ‘[ 2 ], for assorted statements on the ’causes and direction of prejudice ‘ in adept grounds.

This essay besides attempts to look at the normal responsibilities of an adept informant and why Single Joint Experts ( SJE ) have been considered and the possible dangers if any, of the SJE as opposed to multiple experts. The statements are by and large refering to civil instances, gaining that there will be some countries of convergence and common land with condemnable instances every bit good.


A informant would usually be expected to give grounds based on what they really saw or heard ( facts ) and the reading would be outside their remit. An Expert informant on the other manus is believed to possess the cognition and expertness to show an sentiment based on the facts or scientific grounds available for the instance or issue in inquiry ( e.g. fingerprints, DNA samples ) .

An Expert informant possesses specialised cognition on a topic by virtuousness of his holding studied that capable and/or possesses extra makings in it. Whilst this could guarantee the competency of an Expert Witness, it does non needfully guarantee the admissibility of grounds.

Admissibility of adept grounds came under greater examination of the tribunals in recent times and in America, foremost the Frye[ 3 ]Test ( general credence ) and later Daubert[ 4 ]( scientific proof ) led to the Judgess looking more closely at the admissibility of scientific grounds. The US regulation 702 of the Federal regulations of grounds was later revised in 2009 to necessitate three chief standards to be satisfied: “ that the testimony is based on facts, it is a merchandise of dependable rules and methods and that the informant has applied the rules and methods faithfully to the facts of the instance ” .

Is it possible to avoid the services of an expert informant? Where possible, it was felt that this should be the instance. The Turner rule was so named after Turner[ 5 ]where Lawton LJ stated “ If on the proved facts a justice or jury can organize their ain decisions without aid, so the sentiment of an expert is unneeded. In such a instance if it is given dressed up in scientific slang it may do judgement more hard. The fact that an adept informant had impressive makings does non by that fact entirely do his sentiment on affairs of human nature any more helpful than the jurymans themselves ; but there is a danger that they may believe it does. ” This led to potentially utile psychiatric expert grounds going inadmissible peculiarly if the suspect was non enduring from any psychiatric unwellness at the clip of the alleged offense ( Turner ) .

This was repeated in Bonython[ 6 ]where King CJ felt that the relevant inquiries were “ ( a ) whether the capable affair of the sentiment is such that a individual without direction or experience in the country of cognition or human experience would be able to organize a sound judgement on the affair without the aid of informants possessing particular cognition or experience in the country, and ( B ) whether the capable affair of the sentiment signifiers portion of a organic structure of cognition or experience which is sufficiently organised or recognised to be accepted as a dependable organic structure of cognition or experience ”

The Law Commission ‘s[ 7 ]proposal was to intrust the ‘gate-keeping ‘ function to test Judgess so that they could sift out the ‘junk scientific discipline ‘ and had a greater duty and power to find admissibility of adept grounds.

Where adept grounds is deemed necessary, in an adversarial judicial system, it is customary for the claimant and the suspect to prosecute the services of their ain experts to supply grounds, where they could afford one. However, on juncture, one of the parties might non be able to afford the costs of adept grounds and could hence be at a disadvantage.

In the 1990s the tribunals progressively came to trust upon adept grounds and this was peculiarly true in complex instances where scientific grounds was of import in geting at a determination. This evidently needed the reading of a scientific expert and resulted in increasing the costs of judicial proceeding. Lord Woolf was concerned that this would render judicial proceeding and justness unaccessible to the poorer persons. This led to an effort at some judicial reforms to cut down the costs and continuance of civil instances and do justness accessible to all.

The Woolf Report[ 8 ]1996 ( Access to Justice ) trades with Expert Evidence in Chapter 13. Lord Woolf, with the aim of cut downing the costs of legal action to do it accessible to all, offered some recommendations. In relation to Expert grounds, Lord Woolf ‘s chief recommendations are, the usage of Single Experts for adept grounds wherever possible, ( and if it is felt that a Single Joint Expert ( SJE ) can non be used, to bespeak why ) , a joint probe and a individual study ( bespeaking countries of dissension that can non be resolved ) , some guidelines about admissibility of the grounds, and includes a suggestion to supply preparation ( non compulsory ) and stuff for the adept informants. These were refering to civil instances but the rule of Single Joint Expert could be applied every bit to codefendants in a Condemnable instance. The recommendation of utilizing a SJE invoked a batch of argument, largely against this recommendation.

The Criminal Procedure Rules[ 9 ]Crim PR 2005 Part 33 refers to Expert Evidence and to the usage of a Single Joint Expert in Rules 33.7 to 33.9

Duties of an Expert Witness are laid out in Crim PR regulation 33.2 whereby, it is stated that an “ Expert ‘s responsibility to the tribunal consists of assisting the tribunal to accomplish the overruling nonsubjective by giving nonsubjective, indifferent sentiment on affairs within his expertness, that this responsibility overrides any duty to the individual from whom he receives instructions or by whom he is paid and that this responsibility includes an duty to inform all parties and the tribunal if the expert ‘s sentiment alterations from that contained in a study served as grounds or given in a statement ” .

This is besides seen in the CPR regulation 35.3 where the guidelines are really similar to that of an adept informant laid out in the Crim PR.

Rule 33.7A of the Crim PR relates to the Court ‘s power to direct that grounds is to be given by a SJE:

“ ( 1 ) Where more than one suspect wants to present adept grounds on an issue at test, the tribunal may direct that the grounds on that issue is to be given by one expert merely.

( 2 ) Where the codefendants can non hold who should be the expert, the tribunal may –

( a ) select the expert from a list prepared or identified by them ; or

( B ) direct that the expert be selected in another manner. ”

Rule 33.8 refers to instructions to a individual articulation expert and trades with the guidelines sing the interaction with codefendants and the payment of fees and disbursals and the tribunal ‘s remit in these countries, including its power to restrict disbursals and fees for the expert.

Rule 33.9A specified the Court ‘s power to vary demands to widen a clip bound and under certain fortunes, let the debut of adept grounds ‘which omits a item required by this Part. ”

Single Joint Experts are different from Agreed Experts in that both parties do non prosecute an Agreed Expert, but normally the claimant engages them and the suspect ‘agrees ‘ to the usage of this expert, in conformity to bing pre-action protocols. In this instance, the suspect has really limited rights to the ‘agreed ‘ expert and the contents of the agreed expert ‘s written studies would non be available to the suspect as they would be bound by judicial proceeding privilege. This is peculiarly true if the claimant chose non to trust on the grounds of the agreed expert and engages the services of another expert for adept grounds as seen in Carlson v Townsend[ 10 ]( “ the claimant could non be ordered to unwrap the initial grounds if he no longer planned to trust on it ” )

An Assessor is appointed by the tribunal[ 11 ]and is chiefly responsible for fixing a study on any affair refering the proceedings or rede the tribunal on any affair as ordered by the tribunal.

The responsibilities of a SJE are no different from that of any adept informant and the SJE is jointly appointed by the parties or where they can non make up one’s mind, the tribunals can name a individual articulation expert from a list prepared or identified by the parties ( CPR portion 35 ) . They are really seldom required to give unwritten grounds and a written study is the norm.

The Academy of Experts[ 12 ]has laid down ‘The Code of pattern for Experts ‘ endorsed by Lord Philips of Worth Matravers, which once more stresses the demand for objectiveness and to avoid prejudice.


Recent instances have shown the fallibility of Expert Witness as for illustration in the instance of R v Sally Clark[ 13 ]where Prof Roy Meadow ‘s reading of statistical informations ( mistakenly as it was detected subsequently ) led to increased intuition of Sally Clark ‘s claim that she was non responsible for the decease of her kids and led to her strong belief ( wrongly as it turned out subsequently ) .

The influence of the sentiments expressed by the Expert Witness can be profound and are rather likely to rock the sentiments of the tribunals towards those expressed by the Expert. It is hence imperative that the Expert needs to be tested non merely for his degree of expertness ( competency ) , but besides vitally of import to guarantee that their sentiments are dependable and indifferent ( admissibility ) .

It might look unusual that the possibility of the being of prejudice is entertained in such acknowledged experts and to be just, it is largely non a witting trait. Bias could crawl in unnoticed and subconsciously, despite the unity of the person concerned and in malice of their echt desire to be impartial and to honor their responsibility to tribunal and to the class of justness.

Whilst there have been guidelines laid out as a agency of set uping the ‘general credence ‘ and ‘scientific proof ‘ for admissibility of adept grounds, ( Frye[ 14 ]and Daubert[ 15 ]) it is non so straightforward to extinguish an Expert informant ‘s prejudice, unintended or otherwise.

It is of import to separate between prejudice and dissension in relation to expert informant. Bias can sabotage the objectiveness and dependability of the expert informant and hence the tribunal ‘s judgement. Expert prejudice is normally due to a personal, fiscal or rational involvement, per Dwyer[ 16 ]in her article on ‘The causes and manifestations of prejudice in civil expert grounds ‘ . Personal involvement could be due to personal beliefs and sentiments that could tend the expert towards one position instead than merely expression at the single instance. Dwyer quotes the illustration of Hertzler V Hertzler[ 17 ]where the female parent was allowed limited trial to the kids ( at the petition of the male parent ) since the parents could non decide their differences over homosexual and spiritual values. More significantly, the male parent engaged the expert after first set uping that the expert had an ‘anti-gay ‘ prejudice and therefore the adept grounds was found inadmissible.

In Goldberg[ 18 ]the expert called was a long standing co-worker of Mr Goldberg who admitted that he had ‘personal understandings ‘ for Mr Goldberg and therefore the justice found the grounds inadmissible. Membership of the same administration or professional organic structure is another possible cause of personal prejudice in an adept informant.

Another signifier of ‘personal ‘ prejudice is when the expert informant happens to be the patient ‘s medical practician. Dwyer cautiousnesss that the expert might take to accomplish their clinical purposes through their adept grounds.

Fiscal prejudice is normally subconscious and is referred to as the ‘hired gun ‘ syndrome. This is peculiarly valid when the expert is a stockholder of one of the parties, an employee or where the expert has an involvement in doing a calling out of moving as an expert informant and hence might hold a inclination to specialize as either the claimants ‘ or suspects ‘ expert.

Dwyer besides points out another possible beginning of prejudice which is ‘intellectual ‘ and this is normally due to a repute built by an expert to favor a peculiar reading of scientific information which leads to either the claimants or suspects preferring this peculiar expert whose sentiments are favorable to them ‘expert shopping ‘ . Since either party is non required to unwrap how many experts were approached, this ‘expert shopping ‘ may non be readily discerned. This is more valid in the adversarial system and possibly non likely to hold the same strength in a SJE.

Disagreement between experts can be on certain countries of scientific grounds which per Dwyer could be the facts themselves, the peculiar theory to be applied and the mode in which the theory should be applied. However, in the sentiment of this writer, this is non excessively different from their ain single rational prejudice. It is hoped that the sentiment held by the SJE would be nearer the mean instead than the extremes sometimes held by multiple experts.

Possibly we could look at some possible mechanisms to try at cut downing prejudice ( witting or unconscious ) in adept grounds and see if the use of a SJE might suit into these possible solutions.

Christopher Robertson[ 19 ]proposes a ‘Blind Expert ‘ as a litigant-driven solution to bias and error in his article ‘THE BLIND Expert: A LITIGANT-DRIVEN SOLUTION TO BIAS AND ERROR ‘ . He cites the illustration of a ‘double blind test ‘ in scientific research as an illustration to exemplify his proposal “ If litigators use an intermediary to randomly choice qualified experts

to render sentiments without cognition of their patrons, some prejudices can be eliminated

and those litigators will win more instances ” . This is an interesting construct where possibly the experts look at facts and analyse without cognizing which party these facts belong to and the outlook is that any adept sentiment offered would be strictly nonsubjective and devoid of prejudice.

Auld LJ in his ‘Review of the Criminal Courts of England and Wales ‘[ 20 ]( 11.130 ) suggests that a Regulatory organic structure for Expert Witness ( as suggested by the Runciman committee before ) and the care of a Register of Accredited Experts who could be called upon for grounds would be utile. Sing: Competence: 11.130 “ The competency of an adept informant is governed by the common jurisprudence. Whether, in any peculiar instance, a informant is qualified to give adept grounds is for the justice. However, there is no individual or comprehensive usher to the tribunals in the signifier of a professional registry of accreditation to which they or parties may hold resort when sing the suitableness of proposed expert informants. ”

He had proposed a amalgamation of the assorted organic structures in being as for e.g. The Forensic Science Society and the Academy of Experts and many others who came into being more late. However the assorted Expert groups resisted this. Had this amalgamation gone in front, it would possibly hold been easier for the tribunals to mention an incompetent expert so that he can be taken off the registry of adept informants, without losing the privilege of working professionally as a physician, since a competent professional may non ever do a competent expert informant. This would be a hindrance against witting prejudice.

Experts are prohibited from Conditional Fee Agreements ( CFA ) in order to avoid consisting their overruling responsibility to the tribunals and to justness and to extinguish a possible beginning of fiscal prejudice. Using a SJE does non do a difference from this peculiar facet of fiscal prejudice since even in the instance of multiple experts, as there is no extra fiscal enterprise.

One advantage of a SJE is that there is less likeliness of suppression of an adept study[ 21 ]that is favorable to any one of the parties, whilst this could sometimes happen as an unconscious prejudice due to some grade of trueness felt by the expert ( ‘hired gun syndrome ‘ ) in an adversarial system.


The increasing usage of adept grounds leads to increasing trust on their objectiveness and admissibility. Assuming that the experts are competent in their field, it is imperative to avoid prejudice in their grounds. One of the grounds believed to be the beginning of prejudice is the trueness that creeps in towards the party that hires the expert ( the ‘hired gun syndrome ‘ ) .

Lord Woolf ‘s proposal for a Single Joint Expert was believed to be one possible solution, at least from the point of position of fiscal prejudice, though the chief ground for this suggestion was to cut down the costs of judicial proceeding. The SJE would surely be utile in certain cases, for illustration, where the parties have widely different resources ( to level the playing field ) , where the continuance of the instance should be reduced ( fast trailing in instances where the claims are expected to be less than ?15,000 ) and where the field of expertness is narrow and good established, such that there is no demand for a scope of experts to give grounds.

However, the dangers could be that the expert could be thrust upon an unwilling party ( since the tribunals can make up one’s mind where there is no understanding ) and besides that in instances of an progressing scientific field ( fringe scientific discipline ) as for illustration nanotechnology and forensic scientific discipline, it might be that the SJE could tilt one manner or another, thereby neglecting to see feasible options. It could besides intend that cross examining could be a job since the SJE is seldom required to give unwritten grounds, as would the loss of judicial proceeding privilege.

In complex instances, there is bound to be the demand for more than one expert and besides for the minute, in condemnable instances, it is one time once more necessary to hold different experts since the judicial proceeding privilege applies. Lord Auld LJ[ 22 ]references a study where approximately 40 % of civil instance had used the SJE. So at that place does look a topographic point for this method, but in a limited country of judicial proceeding.

In the sentiment of this writer, the Single Joint Expert is an option in less complex civil instances, but at that place has to be some betterment in the mode in which experts are accredited, regulated and appointed by tribunals. This could to some extent, as suggested by Auld LJ, be addressed by individual Regulatory organic structure that takes attention of the accreditation and disciplining of experts so that the answerability will convey along with it objectiveness, or so one hopes!

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