How to get the best from your medical expert in clinical negligence cases

1st June 2017

Justin Valentine, discusses the court’s approach to assessing the credibility of expert evidence in clinical negligence claims, providing an overview of what considerations solicitors need to have when choosing an expert, instructing an expert and thereafter assessing how their evidence will be judged in court.

Justin Valentine

He was very free with his allegations of professional negligence against a number of doctors and surgeons, all of which have been shown to be without foundation. These allegations were based upon a superficial reading of the relevant notes and records and a totally inadequate appreciation of matters which were well-known to those who have up to date responsibility for the day to day care of spinal injuries but which were unknown to him ….

1. An expert’s “overriding duty” is, according to CPR 35.3, to the Court. This is a somewhat optimistic statement of the expert’s duty. After all, in clinical negligence cases each party has their own breach of duty and causation experts whose evidence is being relied upon precisely to support the party’s case. However, as the quotation above demonstrates failure to pay adequate attention to the logic of the expert’s opinion, to the thoroughness of the analysis and to the qualifications of the expert will prove fatal to the case as well, possibly, to the expert’s future flow of medico-legal work. Credibility is paramount.

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