An expert witness or judicial expert is a witness who by virtue of education, training, skill or experience, is believed to have expertise and specialised knowledge in a particular subject beyond that of the average person. A witness’s specialized opinion about an evidence or fact issue within the scope of his expertise is referred to as the expert opinion.
Expert witnesses may also deliver expert evidence about facts from the domain of their expertise. All expert witnesses are required by law to be independent and address their expert report to the court. A witness may be jointly instructed by both sides if the parties agree to this, especially in cases where the liability is relatively small.
Notable features of expert determination are:
- Expert determination is consensual – it can only take place if both parties have agreed to it.
- The parties choose the expert(s) with relevant expertise – the parties can select an expert together.
- Expert determination is a confidential procedure.
- The determination of an expert is binding unless the parties agree otherwise.
- Expert determination is a flexible procedure – can operate on a more informal and expeditious manner than broader processes such as arbitration.