Expert witnesses hold unique power, and responsibility, in the UK court system

BVWire–UKIssue #4-2
July 16, 2019

valuation experts
expert witness, expert testimony

‘There is an inevitable tension between an adversarial legal system, with experts being appointed by each side, and the duties of judicious objectivity,’ writes Andrew Strickland (Scrutton Bland) in a new white paper available to BVWire—UK readers as a free download. This tension can be removed by the use of single, jointly appointed experts, which is ‘increasingly what happens in both modestly sized shareholder disputes and divorce cases in the UK.’

Strickland cites a 2018 case in the Winchester County Court where the judge took offence at an expert whose independence appeared to be impaired. Anyone who has testified on business valuation issues in court will understand the danger of the judge’s analysis: The expert’s ‘evidence in this case is so flawed that I cannot rely on any contentious aspect of the same.’ Ouch.

Strickland notes several new cases that offer successful (and unsuccessful) models for BV experts in this new paper:

  • Sudicka and Morgan;
  • Riva Properties Limited and Foster and Partners; and
  • BDW Trading Limited and Integral Geotechnique (Wales) Limited.

As a warning, Strickland cites a new public record comment by a judge regarding the failings of a medical expert. No one wants to see their name associated with a published decision that states the expert ‘did not meet the standards expected of an expert witness or the expectations of the court in this particular case. It cannot be allowed to pass without comment.’ Ouch indeed.

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