The Claimant was left partially blind, partially deaf and with balance problems and facial paralysis following an illness. She was seen by her GP, whom she alleges should have been alerted to the strong possibility she was suffering from meningitis and should immediately have been treated with penicillin and taken to hospital.
In order to succeed in her claim, the Claimant was required to establish that the doctor should have diagnosed meningitis, treated it, and that the treatment would have made a difference to the Claimant’s outcome.
One of the Defendant’s medical experts, produced a medical report that stated the Claimant’s injuries may not have been caused by meningitis.
The Claimant submitted that she should be allowed to rely upon an additional report from her expert directly answering the questions raised by the Defendant’s report and that as she had instructed an ophthalmologist, rather than a neuro-ophthalmologist, the experts were not matched and she should be able to instruct someone else.
The Defendant argued the Claimant was expert shopping.
The Court held that the decision to permit additional evidence was a case management decision but there had to be a good reason for doing so. The overriding objective was to deal with cases justly and expeditiously, the later a request, the less willing a Court should be to grant it.
In this case the Court was hearing the application at the beginning of February 2014, when the trial was listed to take place at the end of the following month. There was force in the Claimant’s argument that the Defendant had, for the first time through their expert evidence, raised the argument that the Claimant’s injuries had not been caused by meningitis. Such argument had not been raised in the Defendant’s Defence. Therefore allowing additional evidence from the Claimant’s expert was proportionate in the circumstances.
There was no good reason however for instructing a further expert when the one already instructed was perfectly qualified to deal with the issues.