If you have a complicated matter that looks like going before a tribunal such a QCAT or NCAT you may consider engaging an expert to provide a written report or even supply expert evidence in support of your case.

Firstly, what is an expert?

An expert is a professional person with specialised qualifications, skills and/or knowledge as well as the ability to provide their expert opinion. Either party to proceedings can engage an expert to appear as an expert witness at the hearing or to provide a written report. They will need to be an expert in a relevant field of expertise. A building consultant/builder/engineer may be used an expert witness in a building dispute, or a mechanic to provide a report in a mechanical and automotive dispute.

You must be aware that an expert witness is not an advocate for either party – they are and must remain independent and neutral.

When can you use an expert?

Typically, experts are used when evidence is required in relation to a subject of technical or specialist knowledge – often used in building and engineering matter. However, they may be used in any type of application.

A written report from a qualified expert traditionally addresses the particular facts pertaining to a case within their area of expertise and the expert gives their opinion about matters such as causation, the need to repairs, the method of repairs and the cost of repairs.

An expert’s experience, skills and qualifications, the manner in which the written report is prepared and the evidence presented will all be considering and weighted.

What you need to know before engaging an expert

Firstly, you need to be clear on the specific issues you want the expert to address. You should also consider whether the cost associated with engaging an expert is worth the expense in relation to the value of the dispute.

Also think about whether you need the expert to provide a written report to verify certain facts or act as an expert witness in proceedings, or both. Expert witnesses can provide evidence at a hearing in person or, in some instances, via telephone or video linkup.

What does it cost to engage an expert?

This will varying depending on the nature of the dispute, the type of expert required (such as an engineer versus a building consultant) and the knowledge, skills, qualifications and experience of the expert. Usually the cost of an expert will be paid by the party that engages them.

Expert report can quite expensive due to their time consuming nature to prepare. We suggest requesting an estimated cost of preparing a written report before engagement. Additional costs can include being on standby for a hearing, providing comment on other expert reports filed by other parties and appearing as a witness at a hearing.

The cost of retaining an expert may be recoverable from the other party should you be successful – but not in all cases.

How do you find an expert?

You can contact the trade or professional association in your state. For example – the Institute of Building Consultants or the Board of Registered Engineers Queensland. You can also approach people in the relevant field and ask them for references, approach teaching institutions or university affiliated organisation. Before engaging anyone as an expert – ensure they are highly qualified in their relevant field and have experience acting as an expert witness.

To learn more contact the team at Morse Building Consultancy.

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