Related Sector: Expert Witness, Witness Familiarisation

The mandatory wording of the Statement of Truth in expert witnesses’ reports in the civil courts is going to be different.

The 122nd Update makes the additional new wording mandatory with effect from 1st October 2020.

The amendment adds the following sentence on to the end of the current version of the Statement of Truth:

“I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.”

To view the latest full statement of truth, click here

Background Information

The new wording reflects the emphasis placed by the Courts on the seriousness with which they will view any false statements contained in a written report, following the case of Liverpool Victoria Insurance Co.Ltd v Zafar [2019]EWCA Civ 392, in which the Court of Appeal set out guidance for judges in how to deal with contempt of court actions against expert witnesses.

Dr. Zafar had included information in his report at the request of his instructing solicitors; the information directly contradicted his actual findings on examination of the claimant and contained an opinion on prognosis, suggested by the solicitor, which was not his own.

The court found that he had, at the very least, been reckless about the truthfulness of the information, if not dishonest, in including it in his report. As such, he was “in contempt of court” and liable for punishment by the court, either by way of a fine or by way of imprisonment.

The Court of Appeal ruled that an expert witness who is found to be either dishonest or reckless as to the truthfulness of their reports should be sentenced to immediate imprisonment for 1 year.

This development is all in line with the process of professionalisation of the expert witness industry and the trust and reliance that the courts place on the experts who write reports.

What does all this mean?

Any reports which you sign after 1st October 2020 must contain the new wording; we strongly suggest updating your report writing template now, in order to be ready for when the change comes into force.

To view the latest full statement of truth, click here

There is no need to change your Statement of Truth on reports signed before that date; equally, there is nothing wrong with making the changes now.

This article was first published on 29th July 2020.

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