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Instructing Expert Witnesses in Ireland: A Comprehensive Guide

Expert Witness March 14, 2024

When it comes to legal proceedings, Expert Witnesses play a pivotal role in providing specialised knowledge and insights. In Ireland, instructing these experts effectively is essential for a fair and informed judicial process. So what are the key aspects of instructing Expert Witnesses?

1. Understanding the Role of an Expert Witness

An Expert Witness is an individual with specific expertise in a particular field relevant to a case. Their duty is to assist the court by providing evidence based on their knowledge, experience, and qualifications. Importantly, this duty to the court overrides any obligation they may feel towards the party paying their fee.

2. Order 39 Rules of the Superior Courts

The legal framework governing Expert Witnesses in Ireland is outlined in Order 39 of the Rules of the Superior Courts. Here are some critical points:

  • Duty to Assist the Court: Experts must provide evidence to aid the court in making informed decisions. This duty takes precedence over any loyalty to the instructing party.
  • Acknowledgment in Reports: Experts are required to acknowledge their duty to the court explicitly in their reports.
  • Financial Disclosure: Experts must disclose any financial interests related to the case.
  • Avoiding Bias: Experts should refrain from acting as mere “hired guns” favouring the instructing principal’s case.

3. Presentation of Expert Evidence

To ensure efficiency, the court restricts Expert evidence to matters reasonably necessary for decision-making. Key considerations include:

  • Field of Expertise: Clearly identify the field in which Expert evidence is required.
  • Expert Identification: Provide the name of the Expert whenever possible.
  • Efficient Presentation: Ensure evidence is presented effectively.

4. Expert Witness Immunity

Recent Irish precedent cases uphold Expert Witness immunity.

5. Preparing Expert Witnesses

  • Written Court Reports: Experts must understand the requirements for well-structured, court-compliant reports.
  • Oral Evidence: Training in giving effective oral evidence is crucial.
  • Legal Knowledge: Experts should grasp relevant legal principles and their duties to the court.

6. Beyond the Courtroom

Expert Witnesses also play roles in other forums, such as mediations, inquests, and public inquiries. Maintaining professional detachment and adhering to ethical standards are essential. In summary, instructing Expert Witnesses in Ireland involves understanding their duties, complying with legal requirements, and ensuring efficient presentation of evidence. By doing so, we contribute to a fair and robust legal system.

For further information, join us at the Future of Expert Witnesses conference on May 23rd at the Gibson Hotel, Dublin or visit our Expert Witness page for more details on training programmes relevant to you.

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