The primary function of an Expert Witness in Ireland is to assist the Irish courts in matters within his/her sphere of specialist expertise. The retention of an Expert Witness in Ireland is a common feature of litigation. As in most cases [where they are former-Legal Practitioners], Judges are typically well-qualified to adjudicate on allegations of legal negligence without additional aid from an expert. Where an Expert Witness is being retained, there is an obligation on Instructing Solicitors to ensure that the costs of litigation are proportionate.
Expert Witness in Ireland – liability
There is now a possibility that Expert witnesses can be subject to claims in negligence arising from failure to exercise reasonable skill and care in providing their Expert Evidence. The courts in Ireland have held that an Expert in Ireland will have discharged his/her duty to their client if they provide an independent and unbiased opinion, which is within the range of ‘reasonable expert opinions’. Therefore, experts who have proactively and mindfully engaged in the process of presenting expert evidence are likely to satisfy these criteria vis-à-vis their liability.
Expert Witness in Ireland – Immunity
Expert Witness in Ireland immunity has been upheld in a number of recent Irish precedent cases. One of the leading cases – Looney v the Governor and the Company of Bank of Ireland & Morey – provided that a Court could suspend an Expert Witness’s immunity if the witness was found to have made defamatory (or malicious) statements.
In a UK case in 2015, one reason cited for abolishing expert witness immunity was the public policy argument that Experts should be accountable for their conduct and, if a breach of duty arises, that there should be a potential remedy to the sufferer of that Breach. Previously the view held was that there could be a potential conflict between an Experts’ duty to the court and their Duty to their client, particularly if they must provide evidence against their client’s commercial interest.
Ronan Coburn is a Dublin-based Forensic Accountant, Banking Consultant & Certified Data Protection Officer [GDPR] & trades under The Bottom Line Consulting