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Just who can be an expert witness?

In the good old days, it was easy for solicitors to find a forensic accountant for a client. The senior partner of the client’s accountants would fit the bill well. He probably knew the judge, knew the client (or at least knew of the client) and had gravitas.

In the brave new world, solicitor’s do not often even get a free choice, what with protocols and Single Joint Experts (SJEs). Just to make matters worse, case law, professional standards and judicial guidance seem to be pulling in different ways. On the one hand, there are cases allowing employees and friends to be experts – although with reservations by the judges.

On the other, there are also protocols and guidance suggesting that a single expert is best in many cases and the other side has some say in the matter, but which give a free choice over whom to put forward. There is then ethical guidance (at least for accountants), which says that the client’s accountants cannot be their expert under any circumstances.