The judiciary has worked with the Royal Society to create primers on scientific evidence as a working tool for judges. The first two cover DNA fingerprinting and techniques identifying people from the way they walk from CCTV, so as to assist the judiciary when handling forensic scientific evidence in the courtroom.
Expert witnesses in personal injury work are not willing to work with litigants in person if the government’s plans to increase the small claims limit for personal injury cases are passed into law, new research has found. It also said 38% of experts operating in PI have been affected by a law firm or other instructing party going bust.
A Supreme Court justice has called for judges and lawyers to improve their “scientific literacy” to ensure they did their job effectively in cases involving expert evidence. Lord Hodge also reassured experts that courts do not presume them to be “hired guns” who allow their instructing solicitors to call the tune.
Senior judges have called on expert witnesses to show greater openness and avoid “hiding behind the team view”. Also, medical experts were criticised for paying lip service to the requirement to include a range of views in their reports, while those in criminal cases were encouraged to be honest about shortcomings in their data.
The Civil Justice Council has recommended to government a streamlined procedure for handling fast-track noise-induced hearing loss claims and a fixed-costs regime to go with it. The report, publication of which has been delayed for some months, puts a strong emphasis on settling cases before proceedings begin.
Arbitrations should begin with a default position of no disclosure of documents, a leading QC has argued. Peter Rees QC said for many disputes, each side had “all the documents it needs” and disclosure was a “time-consuming and expensive luxury”.
The Civil Procedure Rule Committee agreed minor variations that judges can adopt in orders for concurrent expert evidence – known as ‘hot-tubbing’ – but acknowledged the changes it has approved to the CPR are “not as radical” as had been recommended by the Civil Justice Council.
Concurrent expert evidence – known as hot-tubbing – should only be carried out in the “classic” manner where experts are sworn and give evidence at the same time, the Civil Procedure Rule Committee has decided. It decided against an alternative approached that embraced “the full range of methods”.