Expert evidence by the back door
A recent Court of Appeal Hearing has considered whether or not the Court’s permission is required to adduce expert evidence.
The issue is particularly relevant in the context of divorce proceedings in which it is becoming increasingly common for accountancy valuation reports to be appended to a Form E as part of the voluntary disclosure, without any application having been made to admit expert accountancy evidence.
The Court of Appeal held that:
- the Court’s permission was required if the evidence was from a person “instructed to prepare expert evidence for the purpose of proceedings” but
- if the evidence was not from a person “instructed to prepare expert evidence for the purpose of proceedings”, the opinion of a properly qualified expert was prima facie admissible, because of the application the Civil Evidence Acts of 1972 (s3) and 1995 (s1(1)).
This suggests that an accountancy valuation report that has, for example, been prepared for the purposes of implementing a share scheme, for example, could be deemed to be admissible and could be a way of adducing expert evidence “by the back door”. That said, the mere fact that the Court might be willing to consider the evidence would not necessarily meant that it would give it as much weight as evidence adduced by an expert instructed pursuant to the proceedings.