Related Sector: Expert Witness
On 7 November, we asked experts attending our Expert Witness Conference to complete the annual survey. 186 delegates, half of those attending, responded. View the full results.
30% of expert witnesses told us that in the last 12 months they were asked to, or felt pressurised to, change their report in a way that damaged their impartiality. Their examples (on p9-p12) range from being asked to remove sections of reports which were seen as damaging to the client’s case to being asked to re-write in their favour. Other experts said some solicitors had even refused to pay them if they felt they had written an “unhelpful” report. One said: “A leading firm of solicitors tried to pressurise me on more than one occasion as the client didn’t like my conclusions.” Another expert witness said: “Solicitors were asking for the report to be changed materially to the client’s advantage. Other solicitors were asking for quoted GP notes entries to be changed. I always refused.”
45% said they had encountered an expert that they believe to be a “hired gun” in the last 12 months.
44% of experts think better regulation is needed.
If you have any comments to add, please leave them below.
For previous Bond Solon expert witness surveys:
Expert Witness Survey 2013
Expert Witness Survey 2012
Expert Witness Survey 2011
Expert Witness Survey 2010
Graham - Consultant Psychologist
18 Nov 2014 17:22
Regulation is as we all know highly effective at protecting the public, all one needs to do to prove this point is to ask the families of those who had dealing with Harold Shipman, regulated by the GMC, or the children seen by the cancer specialist at Addenbrooks, Dr Bradbury.
Regulation has no effect at protecting the public, but appropriate oversight by others might do. I would argue that it is in this area where protection lies; knowing someone is constantly looking over your shoulder might be more effective. As for Dr Bradbury, he was high enough in the system to hide his behaviour, signalling that those toward the top of the tree, or those who are more experienced are perhaps the ones who create the greatest risk, due to the lack of oversight by a management body?
ETR James - Orthopaedic Surgeon
19 Nov 2014 09:24
I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and found it very helpful.
I do have some difficulties with 'Regulation'.
There are pejorative undertones to the term that are disturbing.
"Quis custodiet ipsos custodet"?
In the medical profession there is a widely held view that revalidation will make no difference to the chance of a repeat 'Harold Shipman' occurring.
Many of the issues raised by experts concern a lack of probity within the legal profession. Is there a call for them to put their house on order? I haven't seen it yet.
Lynne McCall - Consultant Principal Psychologist
19 Nov 2014 13:18
How are people getting the rates quoted? I am always being told that our rates are set by the Legal Aid rates now in force e.g. £93.60 p.h. for a Psychologist!
Sundeep Sembi - Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist
19 Nov 2014 14:44
I would like to see more transparency in cases and that all reports have to be disclosed. In my experience some claimant solicitors behave appaulingly when exaggeration or malingering is identified .
Michael Kelly - colorectal surgeon
19 Nov 2014 15:58
Because of the way the survey's question 7 was phrased, these replies (which make absorbing reading) come across as relentless solicitor bashing which I think is is unfair.
Next time I hope you will also include a question asking for good experiences with solicitors and barristers, of which I have had many.
19 Nov 2014 16:09
It would be helpful to know the berakdown by profession as otherwise it is difficult to guage for comparison purposes fee rates, perssures etc
Raymond Briggs - Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
19 Nov 2014 16:37
I have experienced inappropriate behaviour of this type recently. The incidence appears to be on the increase.
Explanation of the principle of impartiality usually works but I look forward to the day when I will have to seek guidance from a senior judge as to how to bring such behaviour to the attention of The Court.
Expert Witness Tissue Viability
19 Nov 2014 20:34
I have been pressurised on several occasions to change my report because the clients were not happy with the outcome. I have resisted but this has resulted in lots of extra work and not being paid. I am an expert witness in tissue viability. Not very happy and will not be undertaking any more work for the solicitors concerned. I have had better experiences with other solicitors. Its time some of these bogus companies are regulated.
19 Nov 2014 23:32
In my career, I have been pressurised by police officers, solicitors, barristers, and other experts. I have been refused critical information in a defence case by the CPS because my challenge to the prosecution was so strong and, on another occasion, a crime scene manager changed my report because it highlighted his negligence. Needless to say, I reported this action. I have witnessed much malpractice.
There are two factors that influence the observed behaviour; one is loss of face, and the other is money.
Some work done by so-called experts is very poor and such inadequate performance has increased since so many university-based scientists have entered the forensic market. Furthermore, many are guilty of cognitive bias and an inability to interpret complex data. I have encountered blatant bias in judges, and bullying and verbal abuse by barristers. Luckily, I am a robust character and will not be swayed, but I have been made to suffer for it.
There are so many problems in our legal and forensic systems that I can only say the situation gives me the creeps.
Michael Lever - The Rent Review Specialist
10 Feb 2015 11:05
As a commercial property surveyor specialising in rent review and business tenancy advice, I am frequently called upon to act as expert witness in the dispute resolution procedure.
The nature of rent review concerns the hypothetical so unlike the negotiator who would take the client's side before the dispute procedure is underway, the expert witness must be a purist. Indeed, I consider that an expert witness who does not opine as a purist is undermining a fundamental principle of rent review and would fail one of tests of objectivity, namely that the opinion must be the same if acting for the other side.
Personally I don't think regulation would make any difference in my field. I am not a chartered surveyor but in my field most other surveyors are. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has practice statements for surveyors acting as expert witness; compliance is mandatory, or face disciplinary proceedings. Even so, I find that RICS appointed arbitrators and independent experts are reluctant to enforce the RICS-PS to the letter, I guess there is a reluctance to rock the boat. Consequently, the parties' surveyors albeit claiming to be acting as expert witnesses get away with paying lip service to the RICS-PS. In my reports, I say that if I consider the other side's expert witness to be in breach of the RICS-PS then I should report the surveyor to the RICS. To date, I have never done so even though in many cases there have been breaches (such as not disclosing on-going instructions for the client elsewhere.) The surveyors' reaction to my statement is generally negative, ranging from implied 'who do I think i am ' to sucking up to the arbitrator that somehow as chartered surveyors some leeway is surely reasonable?
At present, I am dealing with a matter where the arbitrator will considering a point as a preliminary issue. I am acting for the landlord so was thinking of acting as advocate so as to get around the need to be unbiased but I am going to act as expert witness to get around the client's desire to influence my report. I have already told the client that I am happy to consider any points he wishes to make and he can approve my report before submission but that ultimately and in all honesty I must be able to state truthfully that the report is the product of my own thinking uninfluenced. Personally, i am not willing to compromise and perhaps if more people were to stick to what they believe in then clients would have more respect for their advisers and not try to influence them to a preconceived goal.
Want more information? Please call us on...
020 7549 2549
If you require any help or would like to discuss how Bond Solon can assist you in your training needs, please call us on: +44 (0) 20 7549 2549