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Expert Witness Blog

Conferences highlight critical role of experts

Conferences highlight critical role of experts

Autumn is, of course, conference season – and there are two particular conferences of note to expert witnesses of all disciplines. In November the Bond Solon Expert Witness Conference attracted a packed house, particularly fitting as it was the 25th running of that particular race. A further attraction was a desire to learn about new rules for medical experts.

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Expert Witness News

When it comes to supporting the rule of law, experts matter

When it comes to supporting the rule of law, experts matter

Lord Neuberger delivered the keynote address at the annual conference of the Expert Witness Institute at Church House, Westminster in September. ELIZABETH ROBSON TAYLOR of Richmond Green Chambers summarises the highlights.

Looking back on autumn, lawyers will recall that it isn’t just a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – although most do enjoy those. With predictable regularity, the falling leaves of autumn not only herald in the new legal year, they also create a really quite inspiring backdrop for fruitful new opportunities to meet, greet, network, contemplate and confer.

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Expert Witness Legal News

Lawyers welcome report on justice in Wales

Lawyers welcome report on justice in Wales

The report by the Commission on Justice in Wales, published in October, has drawn a cautious welcome from the Law Society – officially the Law Society of England and Wales.

“The Commission has made an important contribution with their vision for the future of the Welsh justice system,” said the head of the Law Society’s Wales office Jonathan Davies.

“As the body of Wales-specific law grows, it is important to consider the distinct needs of the Welsh public and the legal profession as they seek to ensure their businesses remain vibrant and sustainable.”

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Expert Witness : Building and Property

Boundary dispute reform: let’s use the legislative vacuum to good effect

Boundary dispute reform: let’s use the legislative vacuum to good effect

Who would have thought that Brexit – or the lack of it – would significantly affect the way in which the industry manages boundary disputes? Richard Crow, associate director of Trident Building Consultancy, explains:

Two years ago a Private Member’s Bill, sponsored by Lord Lytton, received its first reading in the House of Lords. The Bill suggested that boundary issues could be better addressed by using a structure which broadly replicates the provisions of the Party Wall Act – essentially removing much of the responsibility from solicitors and handing it to surveyors. Progress of the Bill was thwarted by the general election of June 2017, and with parliamentary time apparently unavailable to...

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Expert Witness : Criminal

More psychologists are in court – and that’s a good thing!

More psychologists are in court – and that’s a good thing!

Vulnerable offenders with mental health, alcohol and substance abuse problems are increasingly being diverted from short-term custodial sentences and towards treatment that aims to tackle the causes of their offending.

In the pilot areas – Birmingham, Plymouth, Sefton, Milton Keynes and Northampton – psychologists are working collaboratively with the existing panels of justice and health officials. Together, the professionals ensure that magistrates and judges have the information they need to determine whether an offender should be required to receive treatment for their mental health, alcohol or drug issues.

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Expert Witness : Medico Legal

Latest MoJ report short on detail, expert complains

Latest MoJ report short on detail, expert complains

In September the Ministry of Justice published the results of a consultation on medical reporting within the package of whiplash and small claims track reforms – due to be implemented in April next year for road traffic cases. The consultation ran for a month in April-May, and the resultant document sets out the government’s policy choices.

It is, however – as seems par for the course in this area – very light on detail. That is the conclusion of Alistair Kinley, director of policy and government affairs at law firm BLM.

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Expert Witness : Technology

Government to plug mobile phone loophole

Government to plug mobile phone loophole

The government has confirmed it will close a legal loophole which has allowed drivers to escape prosecution for hand-held mobile phone use while behind the wheel.

At present, the law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call or text.

However, people caught filming or taking photos while driving have escaped punishment as lawyers have successfully argued that the activity does not fit into the ‘interactive communication’ currently outlawed by the legislation.

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Expert Witness : Environment

The fundamental right to be protected from the dangers of air pollution

The fundamental right to be protected from the dangers of air pollution

The British Safety Council welcomed the news of the High Court quashing the verdict of the 2014 inquest into the death of nine-year old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who suffered a fatal asthma attack. Her mother Rosamund has since campaigned for a fresh inquest, believing Ella’s death was caused by high levels of air pollution near her home in southeast London. It means that Ella could become the first person in the UK to have air pollution mentioned as a contributory factor on her death certificate.

Lawrence Waterman, Chairman of the British Safety Council, commented: “The ruling of the High Court is proof that since 2014 we have become much better informed about the dangers of air pollution. Air poll...

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Expert Witness : Animal & Farming

Dr WHO? by Dr Debbie Marsden

Dr WHO? by Dr Debbie Marsden

Dr Debbie Marsden, a leading equestrian expert with over 20 years professional experience of expert witness work, offers some advice on selecting the right expert in cases involving animals

In animal related cases, a veterinary surgeon is often the best expert, being generally regarded as an authority on animals and easily recognised by the word ‘veterinary’ – a protected title – and the letters MRCVS (Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) after various degrees.

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Parliament, Legislation And Public Sector

Home Office GDPR exemption risks new Windrush, says Law Society

Home Office GDPR exemption risks new Windrush, says Law Society

The Law Society of England and Wales has criticised the decision to exempt the Home Office from data access rules in the new Data Protection Act, which implements the widely-publicised GDPR. The move will inevitably lead to miscarriages of justice, the society has warned.

Law Society president Joe Egan said the immigration exemption in the legislation stripped accountability from Home Office decision making.

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Expert Witness: Events

Expert witness conference is hailed a success

Expert witness conference is hailed a success

On 8 November Bond Solon held the 25th Bond Solon Expert Witness Conference at Church House in Westminster. Demand for the conference had been particularly high, leading to a fully-booked event. Nearly 500 expert witnesses were in attendance and there were over 50 expert witnesses on the waiting list.

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Get process plant design right from the start, urges Axion Consulting

Failure by process plant designers and investors to take into account fast-moving changes in the composition of waste infeed materials could cost them dearly in the long run should future disputes arise over performance and quality issues, warns Axion Consulting.

The Manchester-based resource recovery specialist says demand is rising for its engineering expert advice on recycling and waste processes in cases of industrial and commercial disputes.

Axion offers a range of Expert Witness, Due Diligence and Arbitration advice services in cases of industrial and commercial disputes. Issues covered for clients by Axion’s qualified and experienced engineers include litigation, arbitration and technical support for insurers and loss adjusters.

“We are getting involved in more dispute resolution cases as some processing plants, often built in the last decade, experience issues due to the changing nature of waste materials and the rapidly changing end markets for recovered materials,” observes Axion Director Roger Morton.

“The composition of waste is changing rapidly due to changes in packaging and disposal habits, so it’s vital to plan for this right from the start of the contract. Locking a particular fixed waste composition and fixed output product specifications into the design may not allow enough future flexibility; leaving operators vulnerable to costly disputes should the plant not be able to cope.”

Designing a plant capable of handling a wide variation of waste composition may be more expensive at the outset, he advises, but it makes sense to build it for a range of materials that can reduce the risk of future problems.

Waste processing facilities may underperform for a variety of reasons. It may be that the waste is not the right composition or it may be a result of inadequate plant design, leading to over-loading of ‘bottleneck’ sections of the plant which in turn cause poor separation efficiency, blockages and excessive breakdowns. Resolving where the blame lies for these issues can require detailed and lengthy analysis to unravel the causes.

Early consultation with engineers during the contractual process to include flexibility within the plant’s capabilities is important, advises Roger. “Innovation within the waste sector means we’re now working with changing feed materials, evolving end markets and rapidly-developing technology. Construction and operation contracts that allow more collaborative working between local authority clients, plant operators and plant builders will mitigate the need for action in the future.”

As well as offering consulting services to the waste management sector, Axion’s experience of running its own large material recycling operation provides unique insight that helps clients.

“As we also operate in the market commercially, we know the prices of recovered fuel, recycled metals and recycled plastics and we know our own operating costs so we can make credible and realistic assessments of the issues facing processing plants and the likely commercial impact of failures. And because our plant specialises in processing non-metallic fractions from end-of-life vehicles – a niche sector – there is rarely a conflict of interest.”

Roger adds: “Get the experts involved at the start, instead of the end. Acting at the contract-forming stage will save money for all parties in the long run.”

Axion Consulting, part of the Axion Group, develops and evaluates novel resource recovery processes, tests and operates innovative recyclable collection systems as well as offering business planning and financial analysis.

It can supply the expertise, knowledge and necessary skills to implement projects in the Circular Economy sector, with a specific focus on working with supply chains to deliver successful outcomes, which are both environmentally sound and economically viable.

For more information, Axion Consulting on 0161 426 7731 or visit the website - www.axionconsulting.co.uk; @axionconsulting.