I attended an expert witness conference in Toronto last week and it was very good. I’ve attended these types of conferences in the US in the past and they were also good. But Toronto was different in its Canadian flavour and in addressing touchy subjects like bias in expert investigating and reporting, “dirty” experts and retaining experts on contingency.
I’m not so sure about the prevalence of these problems down east but in my invited talk on Principles Governing the Cost Control of Civil Litigation Involving Experts I touched on problems we do have. Like experts retained many many months or years after a case is taken and technical investigation budgets estimated by non-technical people.
The two and a half day, 3rd Annual Expert Witness Forum East organized by The Canadian Institute, Toronto, looked in depth at:
- Implicit bias as seen by three Toronto police officers, and,
- Expert report writing as outlined by an experienced forensic engineer.
There was also good coverage of related topics like:
- Case law and updates to the Rules of Civil Procedure
- Breaking the logjam between experts and judges
- Trends in expert witness testimony
- Matching expertise to your case and,
- Principles governing the cost control of civil litigation involving experts
The treatment of implicit bias was an eye-opener. We’re human and it’s going to happen, it’s not always intended, but sometimes it’s deliberate.
Two of my daughters were interested in the conference program as well; I suspect because of the bias theme. One is in hospital management in Toronto, and the other in veterinary medicine in the US who actually expressed some interest in attending. So, wide appeal for the forum.
I took copious notes and hope to report in more depth on the conference but think I’ll wait on receipt of the speaker’s papers to be sure I get it right. Particularly that on bias and report writing. These views need to be got out there to all involved in expert witnessing on both sides of the table.
There’s an Expert Witness Forum West, and a Forum East which I attended. There’s an argument for an Expert Witness Forum Way Down East.
I noticed some quite different practices being talked about in Toronto. We know about bias and it was good to air it – for sure the situation is similar down east. But the suggestion about retaining an expert on contingency even if under contract was a shocker. Perception-is-everything would be the Achilles’ heel for that idea.
I think reference to ”dirty” experts is an unfair misnomer for “consulting” experts, a valuable and less expensive role for an expert in civil litigation compared to testifying expert. Experts down east for the most part are objective in their investigative work and when advising an advocate for an injured party. The most they can be faulted for is advocating for their findings.