ITIC Warns on Gray Areas

Friday, October 17, 2003
It was estimated some years ago that one in ten expert witnesses has been pressurised by a lawyer into changing his or her evidence before the case goes to court. And in the latest issue of it Intermediary publication, the International Transport Intermediaries Club (ITIC), which specialises in providing liability cover for transport intermediaries, has written a concise and timely explanation of the implications of being an expert witness. ITIC notes that there are some grey areas which place a question mark over the expert's immunity from liability, and that the courts have pointed out that the relevant law is still in the course of development. It says, "In practice, there is an obvious difficulty in separating the work done into the two categories of adviser and expert. "One of the issues that has been considered is where, as a result of the meeting of experts, one of them changes his mind. The courts have considered that, in these circumstances, the duty to the court must override the expert's fear of being sued for departing from a previously held position. Each case has to be considered on its own facts and there will be grey areas where it is unclear whether the expert will be immune from liability. "It is recommended that, before agreeing to act, a potential expert witness checks his professional indemnity insurance to make certain that he would be covered should a claim be forthcoming." Elsewhere in the Intermediary, ITIC discusses, among other things, the effects of recent US legislation to criminalise the intentional destruction of documents, liabilities arising from the arrest of ships, guidance on the release of cargo, and the ramifications of failing to observe the correct procedure in demurrage claims.

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