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New guidance published for instruction of experts in civil claims

Guidance will assist litigants, practitioners and experts to understand best practice

27 August 2014

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The Civil Justice Council (CJC) has published new and updated guidance for the instruction of experts in civil claims.

According to the CJC, the purpose of the new guidance is to assist litigants, those instructing experts and experts to understand best practice in complying with Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and court orders.

Further additions have already been made to this new CJC guidance (with new paragraphs 31, 61 and 87 added here) which was published on 15 August 2014.

While not formally in force at present, the guidance is intended to replace the protocol on experts which currently forms part of Practice Direction 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules. The guidance has been issued in anticipation of the protocol's removal from the Practice Direction in the autumn.

The guidance covers the necessity of instructing experts; duties and obligations of experts; appointment of experts; instructions; accepting instructions; experts' withdrawal; experts' right to ask court for directions; experts' access to information; single joint experts; conduct of single joint experts; cross-examination of single joint experts; experts' report; expert report conclusions; the sequential exchange of experts' reports; amendment of reports; written questions to experts; discussions between experts; attendance of experts at court; experts and conditional/contingency fees; and sanctions.

Mark Solon, solicitor and director of Bond Solon, commented: "The new guidance will replace the current protocol within Practice Direction 35 of the CPR. Solicitors should note that if they send additional documents before the experts report is finalised, they must tell the expert whether any witness statements or expert reports are updated versions of those previously sent and whether they have been filed and served."

Solon continued: "Solicitors must also check that any witness statements and other experts' reports relied upon by the expert are the final served versions prior to the service of reports. When the case ends the solicitor should inform the expert. This has been a complaint for many years when experts have been left in limbo not knowing what happened."

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Expert witness