Expert witnesses are integral to the success or failure of litigation. There’s much more to being an expert witness than offering an impartial, knowledgeable opinion at trial.
Experts should be able to communicate effectively with legal teams, meet court deadlines, and prepare accurate, well-written expert reports admissible in a court of law. Often, it can be challenging to find an expert who has all these traits and possesses the specialised knowledge appropriate to your case.
While factors such as experience, qualifications, professionalism, and fees are of course central to selecting an expert, they are not foolproof grounds for making a decision. Listed below are four clear signs that you’ve selected the wrong expert and need to source an alternative.
Your expert is not credible
A key part of expert evidence is the credibility of your expert both on paper and in the court room. Your expert needs to have sufficient training,education, and experience to convince the court that their opinion is well-substantiated and worthy of being taken seriously. If your case goes to trial, it is of paramount importance that your expert is comfortable with a trial setting and able to withstand cross-examination confidently.
If your expert does not have the education, experience, and confidence required to present a credible, qualified opinion, look for better alternatives.
Your expert spends a little too much time as an expert witness
Generally, leading experts gain their experience by spending the vast majority of their time practicing as a professional in their field. While a wealth of expert testimony is in itself a good sign, spending a disproportionate amount of time in the witness box, rather than in practice, should be a red flag. Ideally, expert witnesses should have both specialised knowledge and recent, practical experience in their field of expertise.
If your expert is more over-used than they are experienced, it’s time to search for another one.
Your expert lacks conviction
The foremost duty of an expert witness is one of impartiality to the court; witnesses should not be an advocate for either party – not even the one paying their fees.
If your expert appears easily swayed by your comments and is eager to change the substance of their report in order to align more closely with what they believe you are wishing to hear, it may be unwise to continue to engage their services.
Your expert charges an unreasonable fee
As with other consultants, experts set their fees based on the complexity of the case and the time required to review files, prepare a report and, if necessary, appear in court. Yet legal teams should be wary of experts who charge rates that appear at odds with the demands of the case at hand.
If you suspect that your expert is charging more than what could be deemed reasonable for the review of documents and preparation of an expert opinion, you may want to make the switch to another expert.
An impressive CV or extensive field experience alone do not qualify a professional as an expert witness. Rather, there is a broad variety of factors to consider when selecting and engaging an expert.
If your chosen expert shows one or more of the signs above, we recommend terminating your business relationship and approaching Experts to find a better choice.