England: Expert witnesses want anonymity

England: Expert witnesses want anonymity

More than four out of five expert witnesses in England want judges to be willing to give them anonymity in criminal or controversial cases.

The finding comes from the 2023 Expert Witness Survey, from the Law Society Gazette, and concerns cases in which experts are instructed to give evidence in emotionally difficult circumstances.

It cites the Lucy Letby trial, which a consultant paediatrician described as “long and harrowing”. The report also highlighted the fact that experts often furnish opinions that are favourable to the instructing solicitors, irrespective of the evidence. This “should be a matter for scrutiny by the courts and all court users”.

One respondent complained about fees, saying: “Recovering fees from solicitors, CPS and courts is a nightmare. Fees should be paid before providing the report.”

Another said: “Medical expert witness professional fees should be in line with lawyers (solicitors and counsels) of the same seniority and experience. This is because a high-quality report with unbiased impartial expert opinion is the key to a successful conduct of the claim by the lawyers.”

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