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Ikarian Reefer

There are many relevant judgements regarding Expert Witnesses, the majority of which are available on the EWI website, but it is widely acknowledged that the current court rules follow a judgement by Sir Peter Cresswell in National Justice Cia Naviera SA v. Prudential Assurance Co. Ltd (The Ikarian Reefer) [1993] 2 Lloyd’s Rep 68, 81- 82; [1993] F.S.R. 563; [1993] 37 E.G. 158; Times, March 5, 1993.

The Ikarian Reefer as it is known sets out the following :


The duties and responsibilities of expert witnesses in civil cases include the following: 

1. Expert evidence presented to the Court should be, and should be seen to be, the independent product of the expert uninfluenced as to form or content by the exigencies of litigation (Whitehouse v. Jordan, [1981] 1 W.L.R. 246 at p. 256, per Lord Wilberforce). 

2. An expert witness should provide independent assistance to the Court by way of objective unbiased opinion in relation to matters within his expertise (see Polivitte Ltd. v. Commercial Union Assurance Co. Plc., [1987] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 379 at p. 386 per Mr. Justice Garland and Re J, [1990] F.C.R. 193 per Mr. Justice Cazalet). An expert witness in the High Court should never assume the role of an advocate. 

3. An expert witness should state the facts or assumption upon which his opinion is based. He should not omit to consider material facts which could detract from his concluded opinion (Re J sup.). 

4. An expert witness should make it clear when a particular question or issue falls outside his expertise. 

5. If an expert's opinion is not properly researched because he considers that insufficient data is available, then this must be stated with an indication that the opinion is no more than a provisional one (Re J sup.). In cases where an expert witness who has prepared a report could not assert that the report contained the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth without some qualification, that qualification should be stated in the report (Derby & Co. Ltd. and Others v. Weldon and Others, The Times, Nov. 9, 1990 per Lord Justice Staughton). 

6. If, after exchange of reports, an expert witness changes his view on a material matter having read the other side's expert's report or for any other reason, such change of view should be communicated (through legal representatives) to the other side without delay and when appropriate to the Court. 

7. Where expert evidence refers to photographs, plans, calculations, analyses, measurements, survey reports or other similar documents, these must be provided to the opposite party at the same time as the exchange of reports (see 15.5 of the Guide to Commercial Court Practice)”