Expert witnesses are often needed to assist tribunals and courts with various building-related matters, including disputes over boundaries, valuations, the quality of works completed, Party Wall Awards and so on.
As a leading firm of chartered surveyors working across the Hampshire area, our team at Harrison Clarke is regularly called upon to be a RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) expert witness.
We take this role very seriously and, in this article, we look at what this responsibility entails.
This is the written confirmation at the end of our report that we, as expert witnesses, sign and verify to the court or tribunal that we are reporting to.
The confirmation covers several points and highlights the importance of acting in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules, which were introduced in 1997 as part of the Civil Procedure Act 1997 by the Civil Procedure Rules Committee. These rules are used by the Court of Appeal, High Court of Justice and County Courts in civil cases across England and Wales.
The requirements for statements of truth can differ between jurisdictions and tribunals. However, an example is set out in the Civil Procedure Rules.
RICS requires specific wording in a statement of truth, which must be adopted by all chartered surveyors acting in the capacity of an expert witness.
The wording of the statement is:
“I confirm that I have made clear which facts and matters referred to in this report are within my own knowledge and which are not. Those that are within my own knowledge I confirm to be true. The opinions I have expressed represent my true and complete professional opinions on the matters to which they refer. I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes the causes to be made a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.”
As you can tell from this wording, there can be very serious consequences for making false statements, particularly if you have declared otherwise.
There are six defined points to the declaration:
“I confirm that my report has drawn attention to all material facts which are relevant and have affected my professional opinion.”
This is important, as it shows that you have not only considered all relevant material facts, but that you have drawn to the attention of the court the source of the information that has informed your opinion.
“I confirm that I understand and have complied with my duty to the <specify the tribunal – this may vary, as appropriate to the particular forum> as an expert witness which overrides any duty to those instructing or paying me, that I have given my evidence impartially and objectively, and that I will continue to comply with that duty as required.”
This affirms that you are acting impartially and free of any influence from the instructing parties, and that you are not acting as a ‘hired gun’ to win the case for your instructing party.
“I confirm that I am not instructed under any conditional or other success-based fee arrangement.”
This affirms that you are acting impartially and that you are free from any influence that may be brought about by your ability to recover costs.
“I confirm that I have no conflicts of interest.”
If a conflict of interest exists, or may be perceived to exist, between the expert and the appointing party, this could affect the weight given to, or the admissibility of, any evidence provided. The expert must therefore declare that there is no conflict of interest, or declare any relationships between the parties that may give rise to a perceived conflict.
“I confirm that I am aware of and have complied with the requirements of the rules, protocols and directions of the <specify the tribunal>.”
Different tribunals have specific requirements and protocols. It is very important that you select an expert who has a knowledge and an experience of those protocols. If they do not have the right knowledge and experience, then signing such a statement could undermine the weight of their evidence.
“I confirm that my report complies with the requirements of RICS – Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, as set down in the RICS practice statement Surveyors acting as expert witnesses”.
This affirms that not only have we complied with the rules and the requirements of the tribunal but that we have also complied with the mandatory requirements of our professional body. If our report is found to be incorrect, we could be subject to disciplinary action.
A statement of truth and declaration not only verifies to the tribunal that it has been prepared truthfully and is unbiased but, if declared falsely, or to deliberately mislead the tribunal, it could have serious implications both for the surveyor and the appointing party’s case.
This makes it incredibly important that you use a qualified, expert and experienced chartered surveyor, like our team at Harrison Clarke, when you need to appoint an expert witness.
For further guidance and useful tips and information on the range of surveying services we provide, you can read our blogs and watch our videos. These are available on our website and our YouTube channel.
Call our friendly, expert and highly qualified surveyors on 023 8155 0051, or email us at email@example.com. We would welcome the opportunity to help with any queries or needs you may have.
At the time of writing, we have a total of 72 reviews across Trustpilot and Google. We are proud to say that they are all 5 star ratings across the board.
Discover something you would like to know more about?