Expert witnesses ‘blacklist’ law firms

Nearly six out of ten expert witnesses have a blacklist of law firms that they would never work with again, according to a recent survey of expert witnesses.

According to an anonymous survey of 160 expert witnesses published by legal training consultancy Bond Solon, 59 per cent of respondents said that there were firms of solicitors that they would never work with again. “It is a matter of some concern that as many as six out of ten experts feel that way,” said Mark Solon, a solicitor and director of Bond Solon. He pointed out that it was an increasing problem, with only half of those surveyed responding in that way last year.

“The areas where experts generally report issues are inadequate instructions, not providing full paperwork, giving late instructions, and the classic problem of late payment,” Solon commented. According to the survey, half of all instructions from solicitors were deemed to be either “adequate” or “poor”. However, this represented a 16 per cent improvement on last year’s results. Almost two-thirds of instructions arrived either “just in time” or “late” from solicitors (64 per cent).

According to Solon: “Overall solicitors have to understand that the Civil Procedure Rules provide that the expert must be independent and their duty is to the court.”

There was little sign of work for experts slowing down despite Lord Woolf’s attempts to deal with the “large litigation support industry that has grown up among professions” through the Civil Procedure Rules. The research found that 77 per cent of respondents reported that the number of instructions had increased or remained the same, which was a slight increase from last year (76 per cent).