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Expert witness fees - anyone who can advise?

(32 Posts)
TinyGrassIsDreaming Mon 18-Jul-16 16:44:55

NC for this as I don't want to jeopardise the court case.

I've been appointed as an expert witness to supply a report to the court in a negligence hearing. It's my first time doing this, so please bear with me! The solicitor handling the case has asked me for an invoice detailing my charges etc, and I don't have the first clue what I should be asking for.

I work in a very niche area. The legal firm had terrific problems trying to find somebody with enough experience/knowledge in this area who could submit a report, prior to contacting me, so it's not as if expert witnesses in my field are easy to come by. I don't know if that affects my costs at all.

I've looked at the CPS scale of guidance in relation to fees, and my particular profession isn't listed there, which is no surprise. Is there anyone with any experience of this who'd be willing to advise? Naturally, I can go into greater detail in PMs. TIA!

tootiredforthissh1t Mon 18-Jul-16 17:01:14

I have no direct experience to speak of, sorry. Is there a similar profession in the CPS guidance that you could base your fee on?

caroldecker Mon 18-Jul-16 17:02:01

I would look at professions which are listed which have about the same annual pay - eg do you earn the same as a doctor?
Note professional witnesses should be leaders in their field, so top end salaries and then break down an hourly basis for your work.
Having looked, I would say £75 an hour prep, £300 a day in court and expenses

TinyGrassIsDreaming Mon 18-Jul-16 18:09:54

tootired, there's nothing listed that's even similar to it, sadly!

caroldecker, that's a good call, thank you - I'll just have to break it down like that. I need to get over my dislike of asking for money grin

caroldecker Mon 18-Jul-16 19:18:04

tinygrass They searched high and low for someone with your specialist skills. They will not blink at the numbers I have suggested, you could probably increase them by 50% and they would accept.
One of the main reasons women get paid less than men is they undervalue their skills and abilities - do not make that mistake.

unadulterateddad Mon 18-Jul-16 21:12:45

Are you being considered as a Part 35 expert?

In my line of work, I tent to spend between £140-240 p/h for a technical expert where I expect to be involving them in litigation. Have you had no discussion with the legal representation regarding your fees already?

TinyGrassIsDreaming Mon 18-Jul-16 21:37:01

caroldecker, you're damn right about women undervaluing their skills!

unadulterated, yes, a Part 35 expert. There has been no discussion about fees as yet, as up until yesterday, I was only being used as an independent witness. There were difficulties in getting the case to court (conflicting evidence, non submission of evidence, amongst other things), so it was decided by the legal firm's barristers that I'd be appointed expert witness in order to get the case heard in court, as my report is the most solid evidence of negligence they had - if you need to know more, I'm happy to PM you more details.

Imnotacelebgetmeouttahere Mon 18-Jul-16 21:43:13

We used to bump up an experts usual hourly rate by say £7-10 then make sure you charge for all prep and travel time too

Kr1stina Mon 18-Jul-16 21:49:05

Is it a criminal or a civil case ?

In criminal cases , the Legal aid board will pay £50-150 p/h depending on the difficulty of the task and the expertise required .

In civil proceedings , fees vary from £100/h to hundreds . A university prfessor would typically charge £300 / hour or £3k per day .

To put this in perspective, senior counsel will charge £3k per day upwards.

You can always lower your fee, you can very rarely raise it .

You should charge the same fee for preparing , report writing , meetings and going to court . You should also charge a reservation fee. .

The academy of experts have model terms and conditions .

Kr1stina Mon 18-Jul-16 21:51:05

orangina Mon 18-Jul-16 22:00:38

Don't underestimate yourself, your value or the time you are likely to spend on this case. I would imagine you would charge an hourly rate for each and every hour. Draw up a schedule your likely scope (review documentation, consider issues, meet with instructing solicitors, draft report, meet with counsel, finalise report, read other experts reports, meet with other experts, draft joint statement, review pleadings, plus your requirement to be involved in mediation and trial, including pre mediation/trial meetings, etc...), get that agreed with your instructing solicitors, then apply likely hours against each item.

I would really advise against any kind of lump sum fee.

unadulterateddad Mon 18-Jul-16 22:12:02

Tiny , I agree with the sort of figures that Kr1stina is mentioning, I only deal with cases that usually go through the T & C court, so I don't know a lot about other areas.

I would recommend looking at £100 - £300 p/h including charging prep time, extras for disbursements (1st class travel etc) and coming up with a figure that you are happy with. Don't undersell yourself - the legal team appear to have tied their colours to your mast - you've got them in a position where it's hard for them to say no grin

unadulterateddad Mon 18-Jul-16 22:17:24

As an idea of the general overall costs I spend on an expert, for a technical expert in a disputed case I usually budget between £50-150K

Kr1stina Mon 18-Jul-16 22:30:57

Get yourself some training from these people

orangina Mon 18-Jul-16 23:00:14

Academy of Experts also do training related to being in court (being cross-examined etc). Like Bond Solon.

TinyGrassIsDreaming Tue 19-Jul-16 12:09:11

Wow, thank you everyone for your responses - this has really helped.

Going by the info I've read, would it be wise to invoice for fees relating to the report I've written and my time, should the client lose the case?

I'm looking for a template invoice to use now. I need to speak to the solicitor later on today, and I don't want to come across like someone who's willing to be taken for a ride in regards to being paid for their services. As I said upthread, I do have difficulty with asking for money, but I've invested time in this and, along with a plastic surgeon who they also needed a report from, have provided them with the only solid evidence they had in order to proceed - the case very nearly fell at the first hurdle due to conflicting evidence.

I don't earn NEARLY as much as a plastic surgeon, and the industry I work in is unregulated by any official body (and largely one of self employment, so there are no set levels of earnings), so I think I'm going to have to work it out using the potential top amount I can earn in one day and break it down that way.

There are no recognised 'expert' levels in my industry, but I was the only one they approached who could identify the precise issues and how they constituted negligence. I was happy to provide my report for free initially, as I was purely an independent witness, but the case couldn't have made it to court unless I agreed to be used as an expert.

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Tue 19-Jul-16 12:10:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

caroldecker Tue 19-Jul-16 12:32:53

Just because you do not earn as much, does not mean you should charge less. Who's evidence is more valuable?

Budgiebonbon Tue 19-Jul-16 12:53:27

We do some expert witness case work in a niche area and charge on a day rate. The key is to decide your day rate, typically we charge between £450-£650 per day depending on what the case is & the complexity.

We then do quite a detailed time sheet, just on a simple excel spreadsheet. We find that this is the best way of keeping track of the actual time spent

IE: 19/07/2016 09:00-11:00 Reading case papers & making notes

We charge mileage at 0.45ppm, & then any agreed direct costs, so technical papers/equipment hire etc.

On the invoice we then break down time, costs & miles and then attach the time sheet to the invoice. We typically invoice after each piece of work, (things go back and forth a lot), and then are paid on terms. You should still get paid if the case fails.

You will need to register as an expert witness as well, but that is just a simple online form which the solicitor can give you.

It is very interesting but can be time consuming, prepare for it to be on-going for years & hearing nothing for months and then wanting an urgent detailed report for tomorrow!

Kr1stina Tue 19-Jul-16 13:15:57

Don't do anything for free, the solictor who instructed you won't be doing so.

We Invoice on a monthly basis for an ongoing case . Make sure the client ( the solictor ) has agreed to your terms and conditions .

Check that you are instructed BY the solicitor and not by insurers THROUGH them, as that affects who you bill and how you can bill. Get everything in writing.

Regardless of who is your client ( solictor or insurer ) , always send everything to the solicitor unless told otherwise . That's way it's covered by legal privilege.

Mark every report " draft " , unless it's court ready .

We bill in 12 min blocks, other use 6 mins. So keep a detailed account of your time , not just the rough number of hours . Budgies method is good.

Make sure your email and electronic storage of any other documents related to the case are very secure.

Check that your professional indemnity insurance covers this work

We also work in the T&C court so the rates you can earn may be less if it's for medical negligence , perhaps around the £100-150 end .

Kr1stina Tue 19-Jul-16 13:19:27

Check that the CV you sent the solictor is accurate in every detail .

orangina Tue 19-Jul-16 22:19:44

And to back up what Kr1stina said, make sure that your cv is part 35 compliant and doesn't contradict anything you have on LinkedIn or any other online presence you might have.

babybarrister Wed 20-Jul-16 08:33:49

As someone asked above - is it criminal or civil? I assume civil as you have said it is a negligence case in which case it is the court who will effectively cap your costs but if you don't ask, you wont get ....

You also need to have read very, very thoroughly the CPR at part 35 plus the associated Practice Directions

JessieMcJessie Wed 20-Jul-16 08:40:32

Don't do or provide anything until you have received, reviewed and signed a letter of instructions. You need to give the solicitor your rates first so they can put those in the letter. This is not just to protect you, the whole case can be affected if the instructions don't comply with Part 35.

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Wed 20-Jul-16 10:30:43

Thanks again, everyone - this has all been really helpful, and a confidence builder. I've never been asked to do anything like this before, and I'm wary of the legal team taking advantage of that.

babybarrister, it's a civil case - the defendant caused significant physical damage to a visible part of the client's body, through a procedure that was badly performed. They repeatedly fobbed the client off when she started to experience problems, saying they'd never seen anything like it before, and failed to advise her to seek medical advice. The affected part of her body is now deformed and will need reconstructive surgery to correct. It shouldn't have happened. Again, I can't be any more specific, but that's the gist of it.

The solicitor advised me yesterday that right now, they only want my fee for the report, as they need to satisfy their insurers that it's justified before they proceed any further. They want me to invoice them as per the stages of the case, so if I need to be present at court, or meet with the counsel, they want invoicing prior to that happening. Does that sound acceptable?

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