Law Society holds Experts in Legal Proceedings advocacy course

Article Posted: 27th Oct 2014

Duo_BSC1152 (Medium)Law Society holds Experts in Legal Proceedings advocacy course

 The Isle of Man Law Society’s latest advocacy training programme brought together two eminent legal practitioners to deliver a course on the use of experts in legal proceedings.

 Retired QC Adrian Whitfield has appeared in many landmark clinical negligence and healthcare cases. He is a former head of advocacy at MiddleTemple and holds the AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents) 25th Anniversary award for outstanding contribution in the fields of patient safety and justice.

 Barrister Richard Samuel is a commercial law barrister and specialist in international arbitration and professional negligence. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators he trains lawyers in arbitration advocacy around the world including Dubai, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Milan, Venice and Switzerland.

 Between them they  have considerable experience of examining and cross-examining expert witnesses.

 The programme included lectures, group exercises, demonstrations and a closing Q and A session. A wide range of expert evidence-themed issues was covered, from posing the question ‘Why do we need experts?’ to discussing differences between descriptive and opinion-based evidence, exploring the concept of a ‘lead’ expert and observing shifts in attitudes towards expert witnesses over the last 10 years.

 Mr Whitfield said: ‘In very many categories of litigation, expert evidence is required to provide information which is likely to be outside the experience and knowledge of a judge or jury, and to provide reliable opinion within the specialist field of the expert, so as  to help the judge or jury in arriving at a just conclusion. This requirement imposes a challenge on the advocate, who may well have no relevant expertise.

 ‘First, the issues upon which expert assistance is required must be identified, and then the expert or experts appropriate to the case must be found and instructed. With expert help, the advocate must then work up the case to such an extent that he understands what the expert is saying, and is able to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the case.  He should be sufficiently on top of it to be able to advise on the need, if any, for further evidence, and to formulate the case well in advance of litigation. If the matter goes to court the advocate should be able to present his own case clearly, to cross examine opposing experts effectively, and to present the argument to the judge or jury persuasively and succinctly.

  ‘With our different professional backgrounds all of us have experience of training advocates outside the United Kingdom, and during the course explored the extent to which our own experience might be helpful to those practising in the Isle of Man. It was our aim to work with and develop the existing skills of delegates, to increase their confidence and further their understanding of the essential but demanding art of presenting expert evidence.’

 Arranged by the Isle of Man Law Society, the course formed part of the Society’s career development programme designed to expose advocates to specialist legal expertise. The next training course in November will cover the responsibilities of duty advocates whilst acting as duty advocates in the police station and at the courts