Stating the ‘bleeding obvious’

It is hard to believe that any court expert signing a statement of truth, in accordance with para 3.3 of the Practice Direction to Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules, at the end of their expert report verifying its accuracy, has any real doubt that were the statement found to be false then the expert would be open to proceedings for contempt, and that would put the expert in jeopardy of imprisonment – see for example Liverpool Victoria Insurance v Zafar [2019] EWCA Civ 392.

However, to ensure that the fear of prison runs through every expert as they sign off on a report, the Practice Direction is to be amended as of 1st October 2020 to add, at the end of the existing statement of truth:

“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.”

the following sentence:

“I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.”

Every expert report from 1st October 2020 must have this additional sentence at the end of the statement of truth, to remind the expert that the ‘starting point’ for someone found guilty of contempt is a sentence of imprisonment ‘well in excess of 12 months’, according to Zafar – see my earlier blog Your statement of truth really, really matters!.

[Who or what is medico-legal minder?  Terms and conditions apply]