Expert witnesses: independence and experience

Expert witnesses often play a very important role in dispute resolution. Their opinion on an issue may be the most important part of a case. It is therefore vital for parties to a dispute to choose their expert witness wisely.

The recent decision in Proton Energy Group SA v Orlen Lietuva [2013] All ER (D) 206 highlights the need for expert witnesses to have more than a general knowledge of the discipline in which they are giving evidence and not be too closely connected with their instructing party. The case concerned expert witnesses giving evidence before the court but the comments of HHJ Mackie (QC) apply to expert witnesses in all forms of dispute resolution.

The dispute in Proton concerned whether dealings between the two parties had given rise to a contract for the sale and shipment of crude oil. At the hearing of an application for summary judgment, the deputy judge concluded that the issue of whether a contract had been entered required a trial so that evidence was available from those involved in the transactions…

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