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
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.