Substituting an existing expert witness for a new expert

In Hort v Charles Trent Ltd [2012] EWHC 3966 (QB), the High Court held that a party to litigation is permitted to substitute their expert witness for another where the opposing party does not suffer delay, additional expense or prejudice as a result and the courts should only exercise their discretion to refuse permission in exceptional circumstances.

The claimant (Hort) had relied on an existing expert witness, Dr Dick, since 2010 and had disclosed the expert’s report to the respondent (Trent). Hort had lost confidence with the existing expert and asked for the court’s permission to rely on a different expert report from a neurologist, Dr Sawle, which had also been disclosed to Trent.

At the case management conference, District Judge Hallett refused permission for Hort to rely on the new expert witness report, placing considerable reliance on his duty to control expert evidence in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) Part 35. Hort appealed the decision…

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