Exchange of expert evidence is one of the most important steps in a clinical negligence case. Here are some top tips to consider when reviewing whether your expert reports are suitable for disclosure:

  1. Expert’s CV – not too long; one or two pages at most is enough and should detail their relevant clinical experience enough to impress the judge. Should show why they have the right expertise to qualify them to give an opinion
  2. Enclosures – make sure the expert lists all the documents they have seen including witness statements, other expert reports and the pleadings. Check that the dates of the documents are correct and they do not erroneously refer to evidence served on a without prejudice basis, older versions of documents or documents that you would not want to disclose such as member’s comments
  3. Area of expertise – experts on causation like to stray into breach even when they have seen or know there is an expert commenting on breach. Experts should stick to their area of expertise and be asked to remove any comments outside what they have been instructed to report on to prevent judicial criticism
  4. Easy to follow – judges will only have time to read through the report once, maybe twice so a report that refers to previous paragraphs or doesn’t set out the expert’s opinion clearly is going to create a bad impression
  5. Medical jargon – quite simply if you don’t understand the report because it is too technical and there is too much jargon, neither will the judge! A good expert will explain things clearly and in a non- medical way
  6. Explanation – does the expert provide reasoning for their opinion and literature to support this? Do they deal with any opposing viewpoints or differing factual scenarios?
  7. Statement of truth – check this has been signed and is the most up to date version
  8. Literature – directions usually provide for unpublished literature to be served with the report but it helps to disclose relevant literature with the report to help the other side’s expert
  9. Spacing – judges like to annotate hard copies so double line spacing is preferred!
  10. Appendices? Some experts like to put a detailed overview of the condition. This might help give context to the opinion but the actual opinion can get lost in the overall report. Consider moving this information into an appendix if it needs to go in at all