When expert evidence is called for in a court of law…it’s time to call in the expert witness.
In so many trials, it is the carefully considered evidence of expert witnesses that can ensure a just outcome.
The Expert Witness in Court
The Weight of Evidence
A court of law is a place where a fact is not a fact until it is proved -- or in certain cases, disproved -- by incontrovertible evidence. Here, the role of the expert witness becomes paramount.
The Weight of Responsibility
Often, the evidence put forward in a trial by an expert witness can be a deciding factor in tipping the balance in favour of a well-informed, reliable well considered judgment.
Expert vs Expert Witness
To be an expert witness, you need to be an expert. This may seem obvious, but note that an expert is not the same as an expert witness
An expert offers special expertise in a particular field. As an expert witness however, he or she needs to offer additional skills and abilities – courtroom skills and report writing, for example -- which can be enhanced by training and developed over time.
When in court, the expert witness methodically presents opinion evidence based on evidence of fact. The subsequent report -- which the expert witness also prepares -- would be written within a specified time scale in compliance with specific legal guidelines.
The expert is anyone with specialist knowledge not commonly held, or likely to be understood by a layman. When there is no intention to place an expert’s opinion before the court, that person is referred to as an expert advisor and may take on a number of behind-the-scenes roles.
The Expert Witness
To summarise, an expert witness is an also an expert, but one whose specialist knowledge supports considered opinions which may be placed before a court (or other judicial or quasi-judicial body – for example, a tribunal or arbitration).
Fundamentally, the role of the expert witness is to provide technical analysis and opinion which will assist the court in reaching its decision. The opinion evidence put forward by the expert witness is based on evidence of fact.