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What is an expert witness?

The first two blogs this month dealt with dodgy landlords and unsafe gas appliances. Both of those cases went to court and may have used a report from an ‘Expert Witness’ to help prove or disprove technical aspects of the trail.

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. We hope you never have cause to use one, but it’s always handy to know you can call on an expert report in case of legal proceedings. An expert witness can also be used in minor disputes, for example if a complaint is brought against a CIPHE member for breaking the Code of Professional Standards, an expert witness may provide a report or give advice on how to proceed.

In the plumbing and heating world, expert witnesses can be useful in disputes over bad workmanship or faulty installations. 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 for you to employ an expert witness to act for you, discuss this information with your expert in your initial phone call or talk to your legal advisor.

Don’t worry if you can’t find an expert in your local area, some may be willing to travel. 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.

Points to raise will include:

  • Do they have the relevant expertise to be your witness e.g. they could be an expert in heating, but your complaint lies in sanitation?
  • Do they have the correct registrations to deal with your case e.g. if your case deals with a gas appliance, are they 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?
  • Cost and payment

 

For more information and a list of Expert Witness contact details please visit: http://www.ciphe.org.uk/consumer/expert-advice/