In the recent case of Flanaghan v University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, the court was presented with what it acknowledged was an undoubtedly eminent expert for the claimant. However, it was also clear to the court that the expert had strong feelings about the case, which in turn “led him to express himself in very strong terms and, it is fair to say, in my judgment, that his analysis has been premised on an exaggerated assessment of the factual situation…”. By contrast, the court found the defendant’s expert’s evidence to be “balanced, logical and reasoned” and his opinions to be “supported by relevant literature”, while those of the claimant’s expert were not. The court had no hesitation in preferring the opinions of the defendant’s expert in the circumstances, was unpersuaded by the claimant’s expert’s arguments and ultimately dismissed the claim.
Choosing the right expert can be critical to the success of a party’s case. The perceived unreliability of the expert in Flanagan is but one example of the issues that must be navigated when selecting and retaining an expert. These are explored in depth in our article Expert evidence: walking the line of duty, together with practical steps that can be taken to address them.