Leading on from our last post regarding engaging an expert, this blog covers the requirements of expert reports, how these reports can be used and other issues such as conflict of interest.
What should be in your expert report?
When you engage an expert to prepare a report to be used in a hearing as evidence, there is a typical structure. The expert report you receive should include:
- Table of contents
- Your expert’s relevant experience and formal qualifications.
- Your expert’s field of expertise in which they are providing evidence
- A statement of the issues your expert was asked to report on
- The assumptions, matters and facts on which your expert’s opinions in the report are based
- A disclaimer should any particular issue or question fall outside of their area of expertise
- Any material or literature your expert used in support of their opinion
- Any investigations, tests or examinations your expert relied on
- The details and qualifications of any investigations, tests or examinations carried out
- A statement from your expert in relation to any reservations about an opinion or fact
- Any question or issue outside of your expert’s area of expertise should be clearly identified
How can your expert report be used?
You can provide a copy of your expert’s report (with any supporting documentation) to the relevant tribunal, such as NCAT or QCAT) and the other party or parties involved in the matter.
It is typical that the other party or parties will also provide an expert report – the opinion of that expert may differ from that of the expert you engaged.
If your expert is required to provide oral evidence they may also be cross-examined by the other party involved. If your expert is not required to attend the hearing you can still rely upon your expert report. It can occur that difficulties arise when your expert is not present to answer any questions.
When two (or more) expert reports are submitted in a matter, the tribunal will decide which expert opinion is preferred and carries more weight.
What is are expert conclaves?
Particularly in home building matters, NCAT and/or QCAT may direct meeting be held between the experts engaged by the involved parties. These meetings are called expert conclaves.
Simply put, an expert conclave is where the engaged experts meet with a tribunal member in order to discuss the issues about which they have each prepared their reports. The aim of these types of meetings is to narrow the points of difference between the expert reports. The points of difference and agreement are then identified in writing and filed with the tribunal before the hearing.
What about a conflict of interest?
Overall, experts are engaged to provide an impartial and independent source of expert advice. A conflict of interest can arise when an expert is influenced or could be seen to be influenced, by a personal or business interest whilst undertaking the assigned work. Such conflicts include:
- Accepting a benefit or gift which could be seen to influence the impartiality of the expert opinion
- A political, moral, religious, philosophical or personal attitude or belief that could influence the impartiality of the expert opinion
- A financial interest with or in the party in dispute
- A non-professional/personal relationship with a party, relative or associate of a party
- Using the influence of their position as an expert to seek employment opportunities for their associated, family, friends or themselves
Any conflict of interest must be disclosed immediately.
Before engaging anyone as an expert – ensure there is not conflict or interest, they are highly qualified in their relevant field and have experience acting as a expert report writer and/or as an expert witness.
To learn more contact the team at Morse Building Consultancy.