Expert witnesses can now be sued for negligence

The Supreme Court has yesterday ruled that there is no longer any justification for an expert witness to have immunity from suit in relation to the evidence they give in court, or for views expressed in anticipation of court proceedings.

The reason for the immunity had been a concern that an expert witness could be reluctant to give evidence contrary to his client's interest, in case the client sued him. The Supreme Court however has held that there is no conflict between the expert's duty to provide services to his client with reasonable skill and care, and the duty he owes to the court.

The Supreme Court made it clear that expert witnesses would still have immunity from defamation claims in respect of litigation, and there would still be a general immunity from suit for other witnesses.

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