LIVE: Expert Witnesses and Expert Evidence

LIVE: Expert Witnesses and Expert Evidence

Posted by Becker Watt Lawyers on Wednesday, November 4, 2020

1. What type of matters would require an expert witness?

One type of matter that may require an expert witness is a building dispute.

Expert witnesses can be engaged for:

  • Defective building works
  • Incomplete building works
  • QBCC decisions (e.g. if the QBCC issues a Direction to Rectify)

2. What are the cost implications to the client?

There is a significant cost associated with expert witnesses, so it’s appropriate only for larger disputes.

For example, if a building dispute between a homeowner and a builder was over a matter worth $5,000 – $10,000, it would not be worth engaging with an expert witness

However, if a building dispute was worth $100,000, both parties would certainly engage with an expert witness.

3. How would the expert be provided with documentation to begin their investigation and provide their report?

One of the most important things when engaging with an expert witness is that they are independent – they do their own investigation and develop an independent report.

First, you provide the expert witness with a brief, compiled with all of the relevant documentation regarding the construction of the property. This includes building contracts, building schedules and engineering documents.

Next, you would provide scope to the expert on the potential issues in the dispute and what you would like their determination or advice on.

Once the expert witness is given that information, they will do their investigation, which will include visiting the site. They will then provide a report about the structure of the building and can usually include the costs required to rectify the defects.

4. What discussions can occur whilst the expert report is being drafted?

The discussions that can occur are very limited. It is fundamentally important that the expert remains independent, so there can be no influence over the content of the report or the way that the report is being drafted.

The only discussion that would occur is clarifying what you are requiring the expert to determine.

5. What legal professional privilege occurs around the drafting of the report and communications between the expert and the solicitor? 

Legal professional privilege is the right to remain confident in communication between parties. The simplest way to view this is that any correspondence and communication that occurs in the drafting of the expert report could be disclosed to the other party at any time.

However, there are certain expectations to that, including correspondence from the legal team to the expert.

For tailored legal advice and representation, book a consultation with a Trusted Construction Lawyer in Brisbane. Contact us at 1300 AT LEGAL, or book online.

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