Need an Expert Witness?
In an ideal world an Expert Witness would be unnecessary. Building projects would always start and finish on time, standards of workmanship would be exemplary, costs would be fair and reasonable. Happy clients, happy professionals
In the real-world things don’t always work that way. If a dispute arises and the parties involved can’t come to an agreement, then the services of an Expert Witness may be called upon.
It’s a key role. If a dispute goes to court, evidence put forward by an expert witness could be a deciding factor in the judgment handed down.
With so much at stake, choosing the right person is vital. But what should you look for? What makes a good expert witness?
What should you look for?
Obviously, an expert should be just that, expert in the appropriate field. But, expertise alone doesn’t make an expert witness.
An expert witness should be trained in compliance with Civil Procedure Rules. This will cover familiarisation with courtroom protocol ensuring that the expert witness is comfortable and confident in what can be an intimidating environment. It will also cover report writing. A good expert witness will write a report in a methodical manner, concisely and in plain English. There are no prizes for complex syntax, the court requires clear technical analysis and opinion.
Ask to see a CV. Follow up references. Check your expert witness’ qualifications with their professional body; find out if they are members of an expert witness organisation. If possible scrutinise previous cases on which they have provided reports. Was their evidence commended or criticised? Did it lead to an appeal?
An expert witness case doesn’t always go to trial; sometimes the report is sufficient to settle a case. But, if it does, you want an expert witness to have some seniority, be confident (but not arrogant), credible and speak with authority.
The timescales for expert witness reports are dictated by legal process, so prompt communication and the ability to stick to the prescribed timetable is vital. How busy is your expert? Are they easy to get hold of? It is important that your expert witness can not only work to a deadline but has the capacity to take on the case. Conversely, is it too easy to get hold of them? Have they retired? Not necessarily a concern but it is good to have an expert who has maintained ongoing, active links with their area of professional expertise to keep their experience fresh and up-to-date.
And last, but definitely not least, an expert witness is independent and answers to the court not the individual – if they indicate otherwise, leave well alone!
As an established and respected construction consultancy we offer a comprehensive range of specialist skills to the property and construction sectors, including: Quantity Surveying, Building Surveying, Property Management and Health & Safety Services.
Our Bond Solon (University of Cardiff) trained experts and wealth of experience means we are ideally placed to provide informed expert opinion on issues related to:
- Architectural Design
- Building Defects analysis
- Damp and water penetration issues
- Boundary/Party Wall Matters
- Construction Contract disputes
- Construction Costs & Quantum Meruit
- Homeowner/Builder Disputes
- Professional Negligence
For further information contact Simon Jacklin on 0207 3752535