I write this having just heard that a claim against a member has today been discontinued by a high profile claimant, two days into trial, after the expert evidence had been heard. Fantastic news for the doctor, and vindication for the defence team of the judgments they have made in steering a long and complex journey to success.
There are many elements involved in building a robust and successful defence but, as any seasoned litigator will tell you, the strength of your expert is pivotal in determining the prospects of success or defeat. This is further illustrated in the case reports "The twisted knee" and "An expert eye".
Selecting the right expert is very important; it’s not about being a friend or advocate for the defendant, nor about being a fierce evangelist espousing heavyweight opinion intended to demolish the opposition. The expert’s role is to provide independent assistance to the court through unbiased and evidence-based opinion in relation to matters within his expertise. And before that, the expert plays a critical role in assisting the lawyers to understand the clinical issues and judgments to inform the advice to the member.
Disclaimer: Information in this issue was correct at the time of publishing (January 2014)