'Stand your ground,' Lady Justice of Appeal tells expert witnesses
The Lady Justice of Appeal has offered tips to experts when giving evidence in court telling witnesses to ‘stand their ground’ and not be intimidated.
Speaking at the Bond Solon Expert Witness Conference in central London today Lady Justice Rafferty, said experts should stand tall both ‘literally and figuratively’.
‘Expert evidence is central to the good order of the judicial process,’ she told delegates at the Church House Conference Centre in Westminster.
Rafferty, who became Lady Justice of Appeal of England and Wales since 2011, said expert witnesses should not be afraid to put a first instance judge right if it is needed.
‘The first instance judge is always vulnerable to an appeal. They won’t mind being put right when its necessary to do so and they will be protected from further criticism.’
Turning to dealing with cross-examination, Rafferty said witnesses should anticipate and prepare for questions and be wary of regular tricks – including the ‘could you just’ question that counsel like to pose.
‘That question often comes late into an examination. It may be a simple point but it’s often the simple points that you cannot answer simply. Stand your ground and say its not something that’s easily answerable,’ she said.
Further, experts should make sure they manage their CV as the opposing side’s solicitor is ‘bound to check it’. ‘Be fully prepared,’ she warned.
‘Your duty is not to the client but to the court’.
She also warned solicitors against ‘passing tatty notes to counsel’ and recommended planning meetings with counsel in advance.