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What do Litigants in Person (LiPs) want to know from their expert? - Dr Mark Burgin

15/11/21. Dr. Mark Burgin BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP describes how an expert spending several hours talking to a Litigant in Person about a case can maintain independence.

Litigant in Person LiP cases are many times more demanding that those from solicitors and the expert should take care not to take sides when talking to them.

Some experts take instruction from LiP by email and do not speak the claimant at any time but this means that the LiP will take more of the judge’s time.

I recommend discussing issues on the telephone so that the expert can check understanding of CPR35, the report and where to get further assistance.

Explaining the report

All but the simplest reports are technically complex and deal with evidence a different way to that of a medical practitioner in clinical practice.

Explaining why words are chosen and what they mean, the function of each section and that opinion is based upon evidence (not truth) makes the report easier to follow.

Experts can reduce pressure on the court by explaining their opinions but standing their ground unless the LiP makes a good point and then they should explain how to get the issue corrected.

CPR35

The expert will need to explain that they must follow CPR35, PD35 and the guidance and whilst they cannot offer legal advice they can say when a request from the LiP is in breach.

Some LiP will ask why the expert has not addressed every argument that could be made and the expert can point out the LiP’s role to gather evidence and make arguments.

Occasionally a LiP will send a document with 100s of questions and the expert may need to discuss with the LiP to help the expert understand what the LiP needs to know proportionally.

Running the case

In a typical LiP the instructions are a mixture of claimant’s statement and letter of claim, the documents partial and the court directions are not provided.

The expert should explain what the function of the missing documents are which helps the LiP see what steps they need to undertake to move the case forwards.

Summarising what the LiP has said can clarify the strengths and weaknesses in their case but the expert should avoid making ‘helpful suggestions’ about what the LiP should say.

Conclusions

LiP find the joint role of claimant and legal advisor challenging and often have long discussions with the judge so the expert can assist the court by explaining the basics.

It usually takes between 1-2 hours on 1-3 occasions to ensure that the LiP understands what the court and the expert need to do their jobs.

The expert should always act as if the telephone call is recorded (LiP often record covertly) and remain independent when assessing the case.

Doctor Mark Burgin, BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP is on the General Practitioner Specialist Register.

Dr. Burgin can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 0845 331 3304 website drmarkburgin.co.uk

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