The legal profession’s objections to judges having access to neutral assistance from a third party when facing specialist commercial or scientific matters in court need to be overcome, the Lord Chief Justice has said. He also revealed that the judiciary was “revisiting the rather neglected use of judges as arbitrators”.
The giving of concurrent evidence by expert witnesses or ‘hot-tubbing’ should not be “forced on unwilling parties,” a sub-committee of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee has advised. The rule committee agreed with this and has asked it to draft rule changes that would nonetheless promote the practice.
Government plans to impose fixed costs on clinical negligence cases worth up to £25,000 “will prevent many cases being brought”, the Civil Justice Council has warned. The CJC said it was particularly concerned that the new regime for experts “may indeed prove to be a barrier to access to justice”.
Insurer loses bid to appeal indemnity costs issue in unusual case where expert agreed to cover its costs
An insurer has failed to convince a judge that a medical expert who agreed to cover its costs in a whiplash case should be ordered to pay on the indemnity basis. Ageas Insurance appealed against the ruling at Liverpool County Court, but the appeal was rejected by the High Court.
The Chancellor of the High Court has urged judges to “temper eagerness with restraint” in the way they conduct trials, after a circuit judge was found to have made excessive interventions while witnesses were giving evidence. He warned that “continuous interruptions during cross-examination can so often do more harm than good”.
Expert witnesses giving concurrent evidence – or ‘hot-tubbing’ – should be the default position in the Mercantile Court and Technology and Construction Court, the Civil Procedure Rule Committee has suggested as it backed efforts to increase the knowledge and take-up of the procedure.
There are suggestions that some accident victims are being “forced into rehab” by lawyers and claims management companies determined to “boost their own incomes”, an independent report has found.
A medical expert who failed to disclose that he had trained the defendant on whose behalf he was giving evidence and that they had “worked together closely for a substantial period” has been criticised by the Court of Appeal.