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The end of immunity for expert witnesses

Monday, April 04, 2011
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....has arrived. In Jones v Kaney [2011] UKSC 13 that brings the status of expert witnesses giving evidence in Court in line with Barristers (after Hall v Simons), the Supreme Court have decided that experts should no longer be afforded immunity from suit for matters arising during proceedings.

A few salient points here for A Level Law students. Firstly, this is an example of a majority verdict - the Supreme Court was split five to two. Secondly, it is an example of a decision being overruled - in this case, the Supreme Court overruling the Court of Appeal case of Stanton v Callaghan [1988].

Thirdly, Lord Phillips in his judgment gave us an example of judges reasoning by analogy, by drawing comparisons with barristers:

“The removal of immunity for advocates had not diminished their readiness to perform their duty, nor had there been a proliferation of vexatious claims or multiplicity of actions.’

Fourthly, the ruling features dissenting judgments by Lady Hale and Lord Hope who thought matters best left to Parliament in view of the uncertain effect of the ruling.






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