KWE0280 199x300 Sensible Judgement As Expert Witnesses Lose 400 Year Old Immunity

Chris MacCafferty - Business Litigation & Professional Negligence Solicitor

I recently read in the Law Gazette that expert witnesses have lost their immunity from being sued over matters arising in the course of proceedings, following a landmark ruling.

The full article can be read here.

In my view this is a sensible Judgement. I guess those in favour of maintaining immunity would argue it ensures that Experts are prepared to give evidence in litigation. That said I do not think it will deter good experts from giving evidence. In my experience good experts are fully aware of their paramount duty to the Court and furthermore would not stake their professional reputation at risk for a case.

Whilst this Judgement opens the possibility of bringing professional negligence claims against Expert Witnesses, I agree with the other commentators that this is very unlikely to open a floodgate of claims. There will be claims however for those Experts who dabble and therefore should either not be holding themselves out as an expert or decline the instructions, or are not strong enough to uphold their own professional integrity.

For those good Experts out there I do not think they need to worry. The usual test for professional negligence will still apply and therefore if they are maintaining the standards of the reasonable competent expert in their field they have nothing to fear. That said they may want to check the Professional Indemnity Insurance to ensure they are adequately covered.