The newsletter of GBRW Expert Witness
The Jackson Reforms – 5 years on
April 2013 saw the development of a thorny issue for expert witnesses. One of the reforms from Lord Justice Jackson’s report into civil litigation costs was a requirement for experts to produce cost estimates for the different stages of their work on a case, from producing expert reports through to experts’ meetings, supplementary reports and cross-examination.
This has been a difficult area for instructing solicitors and experts alike. With some 300 engagements under our belt since then, we have a wide perspective on what works – and what causes problems – in this area. While we do not have any magic formula for predicting the time required in complex financial disputes, we do have some practical observations which may help instructing lawyers and experts alike:
- Smaller cases which tend to follow a set course – for example, insurance broking disputes – tend to be easier to forecast than larger and more complex cases with high volumes of disclosed documents. In some cases, GBRW Expert Witness can also provide an initial “Quick and Dirty” bullet point assessment based on a 3 to 4 hour review of selected documentation.
- For more complex cases, it is usually most productive to break down time requirements on a step by step basis – for example, reading into documentation; first draft report, including analysis and research; discussion and finalisation; review of opposing expert’s report; supplemental report; experts’ meetings and joint memorandum; and court evidence. For the reading in estimate, it’s generally helpful to ensure that the expert has a rough figure for the number of pages of disclosed documents. If time overruns do occur, this approach makes it very much easier to identify where and why this has happened.
- It goes without saying that experts should always keep detailed time records (we request 10 or 15 minute units), which contain enough information to identify the work covered in each segment.
Since none of us has a crystal ball, situations will inevitably arise where the original estimate turns out to be too low. While it’s easier for the expert to estimate time up to delivery of his or her first draft report, the following stages often involve elements outside the expert’s control, for example disclosure of large numbers of additional documents or a request from Counsel to address new areas that may have arisen in the opposing expert’s report.
In these situations, it’s important to remember that the instructing law firm also has to explain cost overruns to its client – so both law firm and expert have a common interest in adopting a wellstructured approach throughout the different stages of the engagement.
GBRW Expert Witness