I have previously talked about Dr Zafar and his conviction for contempt of court due to changing his evidence at the behest of his instructing solicitors.
Now the latest update to the Civil Procedure Rules (update 122 to the Practice Direction) has made a mandatory addition to the Statement of Truth that has to be appended to any compliant report and then signed by the expert. This statement must be present in all reports signed after 1st October.
The full text of the statement is:
“I confirm that I have made clear which facts and matters referred to in this report are within my own knowledge and which are not. Those that are within my own knowledge I confirm to be true. The opinions I have expressed represent my true and complete professional opinions on the matters to which they refer. I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.”
It is the second sentence that is new and experts should be aware that if found guilty of an offence of Contempt of Court while acting as and expert witness the Court of Appeal has indicated (at Dr Zafar’s appeal) that an expert should expect a custodial sentence of a 12 months.
Having signed the statement the expert must make sure that every statement in their report can be evidenced truthfully or point to the sources of evidence that appears contradictory such as between medical records and witness statements and leave the court to arbitrate facts.
Another reason that experts must not only keep up to date in their professional practice but also the changes that affect their services as an expert witness.