New guidance has been published in relation to the instruction of experts in civil claims.
The new guidance introduces sanctions for non-compliance and/or misconduct and provisions relating to the giving of concurrent evidence by experts at trial, known as ‘hot-tubbing’.
The new sanctions included within the guidance provide a stark warning to both solicitors and experts alike of the court’s strict approach to compliance. This follows the decision to allow only court fees, excluding a £500,000 claim for costs following the late filing of a costs budget in a recent case* (‘plebgate’ case). Sanctions like these will extend to the giving of expert evidence in a non-compliant fashion. Penalties that the court may impose include cost penalties against the solicitor or the expert (taking effect as a reduction of the expert’s fee), ordering that the expert’s report or evidence is inadmissible or, in more serious cases, fines or imprisonment for contempt of court.
‘Hot-tubbing’ involves two or more experts giving evidence at the same time and being asked questions concurrently, the intention being to highlight and hone in on areas of disagreement, allowing the Judge to consider each expert’s evidence directly against the other, saving time and therefore money, in the process. Hot-tubbing has received a warm welcome in the Technology and Construction Court and has now been used successfully in a number of construction trials, with its use set to continue further.
While the new guidance might not be game changing, it is worth casting an eye over it to ensure compliance, so that when giving or receiving expert instructions, you are fully informed before getting your feet wet.
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*Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd  EWCA Civ 1537