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September 2014

New guidance for the instruction of experts in civil claims

The Civil Justice Council (CJC) has recently published new guidance for the instruction of experts in civil claims, which is intended to replace the existing Protocol on instructing experts. The Protocol is currently annexed to Practice Direction 35 (PD 35) to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) and is due to be removed from PD 35 in the Autumn.

The new guidance is intended to assist those involved in litigation, and particularly those instructing expert witnesses, and there have been several additions which impose specific duties upon solicitors and litigants in person, when they are instructing experts on their cases.

1. Solicitor must make position clear if further documents are sent to expert

If a solicitor sends an expert additional documents before the report is finalised, then the solicitor must tell the expert whether any witness statements or expert reports are updated versions of those previously sent and whether they have been filed and served.

2. Solicitor must check that any documents or statements relied upon by the expert are the final served versions

Before filing and serving an expert’s report, solicitors must ensure that any witness statements and other experts’ reports relied upon by the expert are the final served versions.

3. Solicitor must inform the expert when the case is concluded

When a case has been concluded, either by a settlement or as the result of a trial, the solicitor should inform any experts they have instructed in respect of the matter.

The new rules and specifically the points noted above are currently best practice for most solicitors, but will certainly assist the growing number of litigants in person when they have to instruct experts.