Public Law

Having spent most of the last month in hearings I’ve had a great deal of time to think about the role a witness plays in proceedings.

In regulatory prosecutions an expert witness has a special role. Lawyers will often instruct an expert to provide a report and then appear as a witness at a hearing in health and safety, environmental and other types of business crime prosecution. The role of an expert is important in Scots criminal law as an expert is the only witness who can give opinion evidence during a trial. Last month COPFS published a guidance booklet reminding experts of their duties to the court. In particular it sets out the duty of an expert to be independent and specific disclosure obligations placed on an expert in advance of any trial. You can read the detail of the booklet here. It should form essential reading for both lawyers and the experts who they instruct.

Niall McLean