Expert witness duties in a professional negligence claim
When you instruct a professional negligence solicitor to proceed with a claim, whether it is against an accountant, lawyer, valuer, or other professional, you should remember that unless your case receives early out-of-court settlement, you will have to instruct an expert witness to give evidence in your claim.
However, although you might do the instructing, it is essential to remember that the expert’s obligation is owed not to you but to the court. As the Civil Procedure Rules state, this duty the expert owes to the court “overrides any obligation to the person from whom he has received instructions or from whom he is paid”.
Because the expert must be paid, litigants and their professional negligence solicitors should provide courts with a costs budget at an early stage in the claim process. As the Civil Procedure Rules make clear, this costs budget should “provide an estimate of the costs of the proposed expert evidence”.
Contingency fees and expert witnesses
The Civil Procedure Rules are unequivocal: expert witnesses have a duty to give evidence to the court, and this duty takes precedence over all other considerations.
As such, and in the interests of independence, contingency fees are not applicable to the work of expert witnesses as they can compromise impartiality and integrity – expert witnesses should be objective and independent, contingency fees relate to work which hinges on a particular outcome and are suited only to an advocacy role, such as that performed by a professional negligence solicitor.
The Academy of Experts Judicial Committee defines a contingency fee arrangement as any in which the expert witness has a “financial interest in the outcome of the particular case”. Examples of this type of arrangement include one where an expert is paid a percentage of the damages received by the client, one in which a basic fee or bonus is paid in the event of the claim’s success and one in which the expert witness agrees to forego a charge in the event of the client’s claim being unsuccessful.
Claims for professional negligence in London, Brighton, and the South
If you have incurred monetary loss as a result of the negligent failures of a professional in the legal, financial, construction, or valuing sector, the specialist professional negligence solicitors at Healys LLP can help you claim full damages to account for this loss.
Contact us today for more information and advice.