Court direction regarding expert witnesses
The Court may at any time give such directions as it considers appropriate in relation to the use of expert evidence in proceedings (UCPR r 31.20(1)). Directions may include:
(a) a direction as to the time for service of experts’ reports;
(b) a direction that expert evidence may not be adduced on a specified issue;
(c) a direction that expert evidence may not be adduced on a specified issue except by leave of the Court
(d) a direction that expert evidence may be adduced on specified issues only
(e) a direction limiting the number of expert witnesses who may be called to give evidence on a specified issue
(f) a direction providing for the engagement and instruction of a parties’ single expert in relation to a specified issue
(g) a direction providing for the appointment and instruction of a Court-appointed expert in relation to a specified issue
(h) a direction requiring experts in relation to the same issue to confer, either before or after preparing experts’ reports in relation to a specified issue
(i) any other direction that may assist an expert in the exercise of the expert’s functions
(j) a direction that an expert who has prepared more than one expert’s report in relation to any proceedings is to prepare a single report that reflects his or her evidence in chief.
Joint conferencing of experts
The Court may direct expert witnesses:
(a) to confer, either generally or in relation to specified matters
(b) to endeavour to reach agreement on any matters in issue
(c) to prepare a joint report, specifying matters agreed and matters not agreed and reasons for any disagreement
(d) to base any joint report on specified facts or assumptions of fact, and may do so at any time, whether before or after the expert witnesses have furnished their experts’ reports (UCPR r 31.24(1)).
The Court may direct that a conference be held:
(a) with or without the attendance of the parties affected or their legal representatives
(b) with or without the attendance of the parties affected or their legal representatives, at the option of the parties
(c) with or without the attendance of a facilitator (that is, a person who is independent of the parties and who may or may not be an expert in relation to the matters in issue) (UCPR r 31.24(2)).
Experts may apply to the Court for directions
An expert witness so directed may apply to the Court for further directions to assist the expert witness in the performance of his or her functions in any respect (UCPR r 31.24(3)). Application must be made by sending a written request for directions to the Court, specifying the matter in relation to which directions are sought (UCPR r 31.24(4)). An expert witness who makes such an application must send a copy of the request to the other expert witnesses and to the parties affected (UCPR r 31.24(5)).
Joint report of experts
The joint report is to specify matters agreed and matters not agreed and the reasons for any disagreement (UCPR r 31.26(2)). The joint report may be tendered at the trial as evidence of any matters agreed (UCPR r 31.26(3)). In relation to any matters not agreed, the joint report may be used or tendered at the trial only in accordance with the rules of evidence and the practices of the Court (UCPR r 31.26(4)). Except by leave of the Court, a party affected may not adduce evidence from any other expert witness on the issues dealt with in the joint report (UCPR r 31.26(5)).