The Lord Chief Justice has signed off the latest amendments to the Criminal Practice Directions which take effect immediately.
Expert Witnesses should note that there have been some changes relating to expert evidence with the addition of two new sections - 19B and 19C.
The two new sections deal with Statements of Understanding and Declarations of Truth in Expert Reports (19B) and Pre-hearing Discussion of Expert Evidence (19C).
Statements of Understanding and Declarations of Truth (19B)
Academy members should not be too concerned by these recent additions as they will already be familiar with the principles as they echo the Academy's guidance and best practice especially in relation to the Expert's Declaration which is now mandatory in Criminal Reports.
Although the Academy's current declaration meets the new requirements we have updated it to incorporate the new wording and enclose a copy with this email. Members will see that there have been no material changes to the practice that we have been advocating for many years.
Pre-hearing Discussion of Expert Evidence (19C)
Experts will welcome the addition of 19C which sets down the requirements for the Discussion of Experts. In effect the new Practice Direction reflects CPR PD35 and the Guidance issued by the Civil Justice Council.
There are couple of notable differences between the Civil and Criminal Practice Directions:
19C.3 sets down that meetings may also take place by telephone or live link and effectively restates the principle of proportionality
19C.6 states "Individual copies of the statements must be signed or otherwise authenticated by the experts, in manuscript or by electronic means" This reflects the growing change in practice, for virtual meetings
19C.6 clearly sets down the timescales for signing the joint statement as 5 business days and further states that the parties must be provided with the statements no later than 10 business days after signing. These differ from the times set down in CPR which states 7 days and 14 days respectively. Note that definition of time in CPR is defined in Rule 2.8 whilst in CrimPR it is in Rule 2.2.
In addition to the above, the CPD now includes the requirement for Joint Statements to contain a restatement of the Experts' duty and follows the model joint statement declaration already prescribed by The Academy and CPR which reinforces the Expert's independent role.
Full details of the Amendments to the Criminal Practice Directions November 2016 can be found at https://goo.gl/WWGgTG