An expert witness (expert) is a person with scientific, technical or other specialised knowledge based on training, study or experience. Some examples of experts include doctors and engineers.
Their role is to provide independent and unbiased opinions about the case based on their specialised knowledge. If you call an expert, you will need to ask questions regarding their qualifications and experience as an expert in the field.
Under ROC 2021, no expert evidence may be used in Court unless the Court approves. You must consider whether expert evidence will contribute materially to the determination of any issue that relates to scientific, technical or other specialised knowledge and whether such issue can be resolved by an agreed statement of facts or by submissions based on mutually agreed materials.
The Court may disallow the use of or reject any expert evidence if it is of the opinion that the expert lacks the requisite specialised knowledge in the issues referred to him or her or that he or she lacks impartiality.
The concurrent expert evidence procedure allows expert evidence to be admitted concurrently rather than sequentially.
If a trial uses concurrent expert evidence, each party's expert will:
The judge and the parties (or their lawyers) involved in the civil case can also ask questions to each expert witnesses within the same session.
All parties must mutually consent to the use of the concurrent expert evidence procedure.
Factors the court may consider before deciding if the procedure should be used include:
Parties who wish to use the concurrent expert evidence procedure should inform the court during the case conference.
The use of the procedure is subject to the approval of the court after assessing the suitability of the procedure for the civil case.
In general, subject to the directions of the court, the concurrent evidence session will take place after all the other witnesses have given evidence during the civil trial.
At the start of the concurrent evidence session, the experts will be sworn in together. In general, the disputed expert issues will then be dealt with, one issue at a time, as follows:
The judge may ask questions of either expert at any point in time.
Refer to the following table to find out how a concurrent evidence session is generally different from the conventional expert witness examination process during a civil trial.
Conventional expert examination
Concurrent expert evidence
The sequence of experts giving evidence
Experts give evidence separately and sequentially.
Experts give evidence at the same time.
The time gap between evidence of experts
A potential time gap between the claimant's and the defendant's experts giving evidence.
This is because all the claimant’s witnesses (including their expert) will have to give their evidence first before the defendant’s witnesses (including the expert) give their evidence.
Little or no time gap between experts’ evidence.
Experts will give evidence together, whether or not the party before has closed their case.
Giving evidence in the presence of the opposing party's expert
Experts from either party may not be present in the trial at the same time, unless permitted by the court.
Both experts will be present in court, and will hear first-hand what the other expert has said.
Interaction between experts
Does not normally happen.
Experts can interact and discuss or clarify differences in opinions immediately.
Submission of expert reports
Each party's expert normally prepare and submit separate reports.
A joint expert report detailing the agreed expert issues, the non-agreed expert issues and the experts’ reasons for the areas of disagreement may be directed by the court to be prepared.