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Expert Evidence

Right evidence the right way

An expert evidence service is an effective and efficient way to obtain independent expert evidence to overcome the issues associated with one organisation getting expert evidence in cases where disputes have arisen or are likely to arise.

What is expert evidence?

Expert evidence is a particular category of evidence that is often needed in disputes. It normally involves someone with specialised qualifications and experience giving an opinion about something. For example, when a doctor explains their opinion on a medical question, an engineer provides an opinion about a building, or an environmental scientist provides their opinion about what is likely to occur if water is taken from a river.

Why is expert evidence necessary?

Most legal systems that create disputes contain legal tests that require questions of fact to be determined by an organisation. In many cases, before a dispute arises, that organisation is required to investigate and consider expert evidence.

Most organisations rely on expert evidence to fulfil their legal obligations or statutory functions. But relying on experts can lead to disputes. Issues can arise where there is a perception that one organisation has unfair dominance and control over the evidence process.

In the same way, most dispute resolution processes require expert evidence. Some people considering entering a dispute resolution process can raise concerns about who obtained the expert evdience and suggest that because it was obtained by your organisation, it lacks independence. Sometimes, when people obtain expert evidence themselves, they can end up asking the wrong questions, from the wrong type of expert which can be a costly mistake. Furthermore, as people develop an understanding of the law and what they are required to obtain, their own lack of access to expert evidence can act as a barrier to people using the process.

Expert evidence obtained as part of a dispute resolution system helps avoid these issues. People can have confidence in its independence and be sure that the correct questions are asked of an independent expert with the right expertise.

Integrating an expert evidence process into dispute resolution

It is relatively easy to incorporate an expert evidence process into a dispute resolution system when it is being designed. A consensus-based process can involve the identification of the issues which need to be addressed and the relevant information for the expert to consider and if the parties agree, it can set out a process to resolve them.

By allowing for expert evidence to be obtained through an expert evidence process through consensus, the parties can then consider this independent evidence and then resolve their dispute by agreement. In the cases where the dispute is not resolved by consensus, the decision maker in the adjudicative process can rely on this expert evidence to resolve the dispute.

Is an expert evidence process right for your resolution scheme?

Your organisation can consider including an expert evidence service in its design for a dispute resolution system. This will remove this barrier and also improve the reputation of the process by ensuring independent expert evidence is available to help resolve disputes.

Sometimes an external independent expert evidence service will help improve access to a dispute resolution scheme. Get in touch with us to discuss whether an expert evidence service is right for your dispute resolution scheme.

We’re a trusted dispute resolution partner for some of New Zealands largest organisations