Experts who are familiar with expert witness work will know that the process of producing an expert report involves more than simply having the right expertise. Even after preliminary discussions between the expert and lawyers, a draft expert report can sometimes reveal misunderstandings regarding the form and style of the evidence, disagreements as to what the key issues are in a matter, or new issues may arise after the expert has reviewed the brief of evidence provided to them.
If you are an expert witness concerned about managing this relationship with your instructing solicitors, ExpertsDirect can help. Helmed by former barrister and LexisNexis content writer Rhett Walton, our Quality Assurance team operates to ensure that experts not only have access to professional editorial support but also to advice on the statutory and professional guidelines relating to report content.
Below, we summarise the three crucial steps ExpertsDirect’s Quality Assurance team takes to help experts and lawyers submit high calibre expert witness reports for their matters.
Step 1: Review of the Report
At the most basic level, our editors offer a qualified second opinion on your report before it is sent to instructing solicitors. This first step guarantees that your report is clear, concise, and conforms with the relevant expert witness codes and legal principles.
No matter how many times an expert reads their own work, it is common that reports contain simple errors such as typos or punctuation, which needlessly detract from otherwise strong and reliable opinions and reasoning. Our editors read every expert report for any such errors in spelling and grammar which experts may have overlooked in their own editing process.
Courts require experts to present technical issues in a manner accessible to the layperson without over-simplification of those issues. We understand that expert reports on more complex matters will inevitably require experts to use jargon or provide lengthier explanations of technical issues. Our editors perform the important task of reviewing reports to ensure that expert opinions and explanations reflect a standard of cogency and fluid reasoning amenable to the understanding of lawyers and the courts, or any lay reader that needs to understand a complex topic they may know nothing about. The members of the QA team place themselves in the position of such a lay reader.
Even if your report presents evidence clearly and with impeccable reasoning, courts will not accept evidence that nonetheless contravenes statutory requirements relating to the form and content of expert witness testimony. The legal background and training of each of ExpertsDirect’s editors ensures that reports are reviewed with an understanding of the effect and requirements of relevant Expert Codes of Conduct and legal principles.
Step 2: Clarifications to the Expert
After reviewing your report, our Quality Assurance team sends experts a list of any ‘clarifications’ they may have. These are suggested amendments to the grammar, spelling and format of the report, as well as recommended changes to the report where issues of reasoning and admissibility arise and are aimed at strengthening the report. Experts may accept or reject these suggested amendments and are encouraged to contact the Quality Assurance team to discuss the clarifications if necessary.
Once the expert has made any amendments based upon the clarifications, the report will be sent the instructing solicitors, usually in draft form, for their review. .
Step 3: Lawyers’ Clarifications
Lawyers may seek further clarifications and amendments to the expert report. Our Quality Assurance team also performs the crucial role of liaising with lawyers and experts in order to ensure that lawyers’ concerns about the form or content of the expert report are addressed, and the expert consulted about the effect of any changes to their report.
The Quality Assurance team and Case Managers in this stage of the reporting process contribute their knowledge of expert reporting standards and conventions in courts so that all parties, including the court, are satisfied with the final version of the report.