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Do you need an Expert Witness?

Although we all hope that we are never subject to poor quality work from a dodgy plumber or heating engineer, the unfortunate truth is that there are a minority of unscrupulous people out there. While we would always urge people to find a professional engineer to work on their systems, it can be easy to be caught out by a slick looking advert or website.

In the instance that your complaint has turned into a legal matter or an ugly dispute over bad workmanship, an Expert Witness can provide an impartial, professional report that can be used in a court of law.

An expert witness is a person whose level of knowledge or skill in a particular field qualifies them to present their opinion about the facts of a case during legal proceedings. An Expert Witness is an impartial observer and can be questioned by both sides.

It should be noted that if you are going through the Small Claims Court, you will first need the permission of the court before you can engage an Expert Witness or rely on their report as evidence.

The CIPHE has a list of expert members who will provide initial advice over the phone or email for free. If your claim is for a relatively small sum of money it may not be cost effective to employ an expert witness to act for you so make sure you discuss this information with the expert during your initial contact or from a legal advisor. Don’t worry if you can’t find an expert in your immediate local area as some may be willing to travel to you. However, this will then add travel expenses to the costs.

The plumbing and heating industry is so vast, you will need to ask a couple of questions in your initial call to make sure they are the right expert for you, including:

  • Do they have the relevant expertise to be your witness? If they are an expert in heating, but your complaint lies in sanitation, they will not be the right expert for your case.
  • Do they have the correct registrations to deal with your case?  If your case deals with a gas appliance, they would need to be Gas Safe Registered.
  • What insurances do they hold and at what level?
  • Will they act as a Single Joint Expert on behalf of both parties?
  • Will they act as a Party Expert?
  • And finally, what will the cost and payment terms be?

 

You can find a list of CIPHE Expert Witnesses, along with their contact details on the CIPHE website.