Australia: Alternate uses of expert evidence – views from our breakfast seminar
Last Updated: 14 September 2014

Recently, we hosted a breakfast seminar to discuss the alternate uses of expert evidence in the current environment. The panel consisted of John Temple-Cole, Mark Bryant and Sally Davitt from our forensic practice and Lachlan Gyles SC, Barrister of Tenth Floor Chambers.

The panel discussed the trend towards using experts as 'single joint experts' and referees, as well as the use of expert hot tubs and conclaves. Judges are keen to use experts in so-called 'alternative' ways, as this fits with the Court's overarching goals of handing down 'just, quick and cheap' judgments.

Lachlan Gyles SC discussed guidelines for various alternative uses of experts, then the panel shared their recent experiences. As well as identifying some of the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, this also illustrated the dynamic (and occasionally farcical) world of giving evidence:

  • One expert was asked to give an opening statement and was then cross-examined on the transcript of this statement, as opposed to the expert report itself.
  • Another found himself giving joint evidence with another expert in a hotel via video link. There was no bible available. In the interests of expedience, it was agreed that they could download a bible phone app and swear on that instead!

The feedback for this seminar was positive and we look forward to hosting similar seminars in the future:

'It was an excellent and engaging panel, and also very informative.'

'Very informative and I liked the general open discussion style.'

'I thought the panel discussion worked very well. I was very appreciative of the book handout at the end too.'

The book referred to above is our publication which explores recent cases from the Australian courts relating to principles of expert evidence and emerging trends in this area. For more details, please see our previous blog post on the book launch.

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