Survey of expert witnesses highlights widespread dissatisfaction with firms

The majority of expert witnesses are so dissatisfied with their instructing law firms that they would never work with them again, a survey of expert witnesses has revealed

The survey also found that just over 50 per cent of the solicitors who instruct experts pay them late, while only 13 per cent do so promptly, in accordance with the terms of their contract.

However, it revealed that experts' incomes are dramatically on the increase, with some earning as much as £260,000 a year, despite the job serving as an adjunct to their professional career.

Bond Solon, the training organisation for expert witnesses that carried out the survey, attributed the fact that 53 per cent of those surveyed would never work again with particular firms to them “coming of age”.

“Expert witnesses are becoming more expert and up to speed with the Civil Procedure Rules. So when they get instructed late or poorly instructed, they know it,” said Bond Solon co-founder Mark Solon.

Reacting to the fact that 58 per cent of expert witnesses believe lawyers fail to encourage them to be “truly independent witnesses”, although this is a legal requirement under the CPR, Solon said: “Lawyers have just not got the message.”

Sixty two per cent do not want to have lawyers present at experts' discussions on a case, although 72 per cent believe such discussions are either very useful, or useful, to the successful running of a case. However, this is unsurprising seeing as experts use such meetings to discuss cases openly among themselves.

Over a quarter of the respondents have never been trained in expert legal report writing, and 33 per cent have never been trained to appear in court. A lack of training is a cause of concern among judges, but only 49 per cent of experts feel training should be mandatory. Ninety per cent, though, believe that experts do need some training.