Related Sector: Expert Witness

The Criminal Procedure Rules 2014, and amendments to the Criminal Practice Directions, came into force on 6th October 2014.

These changes are in response to the Law Commission's report of 2011 entitled ‘Expert Evidence in Criminal Proceedings’, which concluded that

“special rules are required for assessing the reliability of expert evidence as a factor bearing on admissibility, and … opinion evidence with insufficient indicia of reliability (that is, pointers to reliability) ought not to be admitted in criminal proceedings … there should be further disclosure obligations in relation to all expert evidence, whether the evidence is relied on by the prosecution or by the defence”

Subsequently, the Government asked the Rule Committee to make changes to the rules, to encourage the prompt introduction of expert evidence due to be relied upon at trial, in order that parties and courts would have enough time to consider it carefully, and so as to require that experts’ reports should deal explicitly with reliability, especially the reliability of scientific evidence.

Experts should note the following changes:

  • Cr.P.R.33.1 scope of the rules governs whether or not expert evidence is admissible.
  • Cr.P.R.33.2 duties of expert witness include defining the area or areas of expertise, in the report and when giving evidence, and identifying in court any issues which fall outside their expertise.
  • Cr.P.R.33.3 service of a summary of the expert's opinion, for agreement by the other party; if there is no agreement, then service of the full report, together with anything which might reasonably be thought to detract substantially from the credibility of the expert.
  • Cr.P.R.33.4 (h) the report, and live evidence, to include information relevant to assessing the reliability of the expert's evidence.

Practice Direction 33A

  • 33A.5 lists the factors to include in assessing the reliability of the expert opinion
  • 33A.6 encourages the court to "be astute" to identify any potential flaws in the expert's opinion

Read the amended Criminal Procedure Rules here: www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/criminal/docs/crim-proc-rules-2014-part-33.pdf

Full details and implications of these changes will be discussed at the Bond Solon Annual Expert Witness Conference on 7 November 2014 at the Church House Conference Centre. To book now click here: www.bondsolon.com/expert-witness/conference.aspx

 

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