Expert reports – too long, too loose

A timely reminder as to how expert reports should be written was given by Turner J in Harman v East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust [2015] EWHC 1662.  Expressing the frustration of many lawyers and judges faced with overlong and poorly constructed  expert reports he complained about ‘the regrettable tendency for experts to produce reports which are simply far too long’.  Many expert reports contain too much history and too much factual narrative.  Not only that, report writers show inadequate attention to analysis and opinion.  After all, it is the reasoning that is important in assessing the strength of the opinion.  Reasoning and opinion should not be lost amongst the re-telling of facts and an expansive history.

Experts are paid to be, and are expected to be, ‘succinct, focussed and analytical’ in their reports, and must start writing such reports if they are truly going to assist the court – and the parties – on matters within their expertise.

There is a skill in reducing the length of an expert report, in knowing what to include and what to exclude, and how to present the reasoning and opinion, but once learnt, the time for production of a report will be much reduced (as well as the time spent reading it) and the work of the expert will be much more appreciated.  The court and the instructing lawyer should demand nothing less.

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