Here Coulson J rejected the claimant's (Van Oord) quantum expert's evidence in its entirety, setting out twelve reasons why it could not be relied upon. In particular, the expert (Mr Lester) took Van Oord's witness evidence at face value and did not undertake any factual investigations of his own, relying solely on the witness statements to prepare his report.
The judge found Mr Lester's approach to his task was wholly uncritical and partial. He admitted during cross-examination that he was not happy with any of his reports, leading the judge to comment "If an expert disowns his own reports in this way, the court cannot sensibly have any regard to them". It transpired that some of the views expressed in Mr Lester's report came directly from Van Oord's witnesses, such that his report was being used to "plug the gaps" in Van Oord's evidence. The judge concluded that the expert had allowed himself to be used, whether wittingly or unwittingly, as a 'mouthpiece', and thus had 'made a mockery' of the oath that was given to the court, although there were extenuating personal circumstances.
The case is based on an extreme set of facts, but it serves as a useful reminder of the potentially serious consequences of relying on an inexperienced expert, and failing to monitor or supervise his output.
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