EWI highlights concerns about new Lexis Nexis tool
The EWI is concerned about a new tool available from Lexis Nexis which is branded as “a detailed and unrivalled validation of experts” which makes “it fast and easy to complete comprehensive due diligence on experts”.
Whilst the Institute welcomes a tool which will enable instructing parties to easily gain insights into the performance of an Expert Witness, the assertion that this will provide those seeking expert witnesses with everything they need is a dangerous one.
In the first instance, 90% of cases settle before going to Court and, of those that do, not all case judgments include a write up of the Expert Witness.
Mark Broadbent, Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery and EWI Governor, said “I have undertaken over 2000 reports over the last 10 years, and have never been to court. Therefore, there will be no evidence available for this application to ‘find’ me.”
This Illustrates that the pool of Experts that are likely to be included is potentially very limited in comparison to the field of Expert Witnesses available.
And with that comes a risk that instructing parties only instruct those that have been mentioned in judgments leading to the same experts being instructed all the time.
Lexis Nexis state that the tool reduces the risk of manual vetting. But whilst performance in court is a good measure and one EWI employs in vetting members, it is not the only measure of the quality of an expert.
Finding the right expert for the right case is much more complex. Instructing parties should check an Expert’s qualifications, Expert Witness training, and ensure they have undertaken regular CPD as well as taking performance into account. If the tool is simply using case law, this will not be included in any scoring provided by the service. Therefore, using a list of vetted Expert Witnesses like EWI’s Find an Expert Directory should be used in parallel with this new service.
To become an Individual member of the EWI, we review an applicant’s qualifications and training, review an anonymised report from a closed case and take references from instructing parties. This provides a more rounded view of the expert and provides instructing parties with the assurance that the vetting that they need to do has already been done.
The scoring is also a source for concern. If experts score more highly based on the impact they have made for a case, could this lead to experts being swayed towards supporting the case rather than their overriding duty to the court to provide impartial evidence?
Simon Berney-Edwards, Chief Executive Officer of the EWI, said “Whilst we believe this could be a useful tool in gaining insight into an expert’s performance as part of research into possible instruction, it should not be the only tool used. Instructing parties should look to registers such as our Find an Expert Directory where they can be assured that a more rounded approach to vetting experts has been undertaken and the expert has signed up to a Code of Professional Conduct.”