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Legal Mind Case and Commentary No 19: Case: Wright v First Group PLC (12 January 2018, Queens Bench Division, Foskett J Unreported) - Professor Hugh Koch, Dr Claire Browne, Dr Andrew Medley

22/10/18. Personal Injury damages claimed by pedestrian crossing the road when hit by a bus. Two accident reconstruction experts were instructed. Following a joint discussion, both experts signed a joint statement apparently stating that there was nothing the bus driver could have done to avoid the collision. Claimant confirmed this reflected a material change in his expert’s opinion and applied for permission to instruct a new expert and adjourn the trial.

No explanation was given by the claimant’s expert and unclear answers followed to questions put to the expert. This was a high value case. It was found that it was reasonable to allow a new accident reconstruction expert and to adjourn the trial.


Commentary

Typically, the practice of ‘expert shopping’ motivated by a desire to obtain an expert opinion more favourable than that which has been obtained is discouraged, if not frowned upon.

However, paragraph 9.8 pf the Practice Direction 35 states that:

“If an expert significantly alters an opinion, the joint statement must include a note or addendum by that expert explaining the change of opinion”.

In this case, the claimant’s expert, having altered his opinion did not explain the reasoning behind this change. There was a lack of clarity about the expert’s current view exacerbated by certain answers given to written questions put to him by the claimant’s advisors (Koch 2016, 2018).

This judgement with its emphasis on negative aspects of expert behaviour during joint statement preparation and subsequent responses to questioning follows on the issues of conciseness, impartiality and key focus raised in the 17th Legal Case & Commentary (Saunders v Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2018) EWH C 343 (QB) (Koch, Sorrell & Fernandez-Ford, 2018), and Koch, Joliffe, Savage and Bowe (2018)).


Authors

Professor Hugh Koch, Dr Claire Browne & Dr Andrew Medley.


References

Koch HCH (2016) Legal Mind: Contemporary Issues in Psychological Injury and Law. Expert Witness Publications. Manchester.

Koch HCH (2018) From Therapist’s Chair to Courtroom: Understanding Tort Law Psychology. Expert Witness Publications. Manchester.

Koch HCH, Sorrell E & Fernandez-Ford L (2018) The Joint Statement: Concise, Impartial & Key. PIBULJ.

Koch HCH, Jolliffe K, Savage J & Bowe J (2018) Expert Meetings in Civil Cases: Three Case Studies. MJ Case 3 (1)037.

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