Our partners serve as expert witnesses when needed.
An expert witness is a person whose level of specialised knowledge or skill in a particular field qualifies them to present their opinion about the facts of a case during legal proceedings.
Expert witnesses are engaged by a client, but their duty is to assist the Court impartially on matters within their area of expertise
Three important characteristics in choosing an expert witness:
- Independence of view. This is a requirement of the Code of Conduct as the expert witness must be objective.
- Qualifications in the required area of expertise. Although not strictly necessary, formal qualifications are an advantage.
- Relevant and recent experience in the area. For example, positions held, actual projects, and responsibilities.
Once introduced, the purpose of expert evidence is to enlighten the court in fields outside common knowledge. According to the New Zealand Law Society, there are two types of expert evidence:
- Factual evidence of the expert’s own investigations and observations. For example, an engineer might describe the physical state of a car’s brakes.
- Opinion-based evidence includes inferences or conclusions drawn from studying the facts. Opinion is defined in the Evidence Act as “a statement of opinion that tends to prove or disprove a fact”. For example, the engineer might comment that the car brakes he examined were incapable of safely stopping the car from a stated speed within a certain distance based on their physical state.
Even if there is not a great deal of complex jargon to be explained, an expert witness can still be crucial in offering insight into a case that might not otherwise be considered.
If you require the services of an expert witness, please contact Gerry Rea Partners at 0800 343 343.