Almost half of expert witnesses say they have received more instructions in the last year, a survey has revealed.
The poll of almost 200 experts, following this month’s Bond Solon conference, showed that 47% reported an increase in instructions in the last 12 months, compared with just 13% who said they have reduced.
The survey highlighted conflicts between some experts and solicitors, with almost half (49%) of those who replied saying they would refuse to work with particular solicitors or firms in future.
The survey found the biggest complaint about solicitors was late payment, with more than half of experts reporting issues with this in the past. Lack of updates about case progression, not being provided with relevant documents and poor instructions were also common complaints about solicitors.
The survey showed the average hourly rate for report-writing was £190 in civil cases, £103 for criminal cases and £110 in family cases. Most experts think this rate has stayed roughly the same as last year, with a quarter reporting rates have increased.
The survey found most experts (72%) believe they should continue to work as experts even when they have retired from their profession.
Bond Solon said judges often want experts who are currently working in their chosen field, although experts themselves say they are sometimes prevented by their employers from offering their services in legal proceedings.
Experts were asked about the issues of mandatory accreditation and random allocation to cases, particularly with reference to this year’s creation of the MedCo scheme, which forces solicitors to choose from a limited number of accredited experts to diagnose their clients suffering suspected road accident-related injuries.
Most respondents (57%) believed that mandatory accreditation for all experts would improve standards, with just 19% disagreeing.
But the majority remained against randomised selection, with 56% saying this was not a fair way of receiving instructions.
When asked to expand on this view, experts suggested random allocation allowed for those with dubious ability to receive instructions, while solicitors with experience and trust in an expert’s ability found their choices limited.