Former Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger is to replace Lord Saville as president of the Academy of Experts later this year, it has been announced.
He has been named deputy president of the academy in the meantime.
Lord Neuberger said he was honoured by the appointment: “In seeking to ensure that expert witnesses in court and arbitral proceedings adhere to high standards, the academy performs a very important role.
“It is fundamental to the rule of law that legal proceedings are, and are seen to be, professionally and fairly conducted and in this increasingly technical world where such proceedings increasingly require technical evidence, so that the need for reliable experts is greater than ever.
“And I would add that the present Covid-19 pandemic has served to bring home to many people who may not have fully appreciated it the importance not just of experts, but of reliable and independent experts.”
Lord Saville described Lord Neuberger as “the ideal candidate” for the role. “I know that, when I stand down, I will be leaving experts in the UK and around the world in safe hands – I cannot think of anyone more suited to this prestigious and important role.”
Speaking last year, Lord Neuberger told expert witnesses that they could learn from the “impartial” way the court handled the Brexit case.
He acknowledged that the law placed expert witnesses in the “very uncomfortable position” of balancing their duty to the court with their responsibilities to the party that was paying them, noting that judges were good at emphasising duty to the courts, but not as good at appreciating the pressure on experts to support their client’s case.
“However difficult it is, you have to as independent and impartial as you can. The behaviour of the Supreme Court justices [in the Brexit case] reminds us all of the duty to be impartial.”