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Attendance at court for witness
16

Middaymatters · 17/06/2022 12:55

My OH is an expert witness and occasionally needs to give evidence in court. 99% of the time these cases settle before it gets to court so he rarely has to do it.
we have a holiday booked to Europe mid July.for 2 weeks. It now seems more than likely he’ll need to go to court in the first week of our holiday. We fly out on the Sunday and he’s been provisionally scheduled in to be in court the following Thursday. I always assumed that if it came down to it, he’d fly back for a couple of days to attend court. He now thinks he shouldn’t really do this in case his day is changed to earlier in the week. he thinks he should stay home until he does the court thing and then fly to meet us.
I guess my question is, do you think he needs to do this? There are plenty of flights back to the UK per day where we are going to. Is his day likely to change and, if yes, with how much notice? Are expert witnesses expected to be on call for the length of the trial (in which case not work in that time in case he needs to attend at a moment’s notice. To my knowledge he’s only being paid for the day he attends, not the on call’ bit.
I’m a bit sad that he’s planning on missing the first week of our holiday. Do I just need to suck it up? Thanks!

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WetWilly · 17/06/2022 13:04

can you go on holiday without him? If he’s happy to stay and wait I’ll be fine without him

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Middaymatters · 17/06/2022 13:11

Yes I can go without him but it will be a shame for many reasons and I’d be much happier if he came with us. It’s a family holiday (our kids, his family). I was just hoping he could just miss a day or two rather than the whole week.

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HDready · 17/06/2022 13:15

Yes. He will have received a witness summons for the duration of the trial, so should be available for all days. In reality, things usually run slow rather than starting early but he should be prepared to attend for the duration. I don’t want to get your hopes up, but two weeks is still a long time in litigation - it might still settle and the trial be avoided!

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katieak · 17/06/2022 13:16

Courts will usually work around expert witnesses as far as possible because they won't want their fees to be paid for the full time of the trial for the expert to sit around if not required. They usually try and have a timetable for witnesses. What kind of law is it? Can your husband contact the legal representatives of the parties or the court and make them aware of your holiday and ask for a set day to give evidence?

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HDready · 17/06/2022 13:16

And it would be a nightmare if his flight got cancelled and he couldn’t back for the Thursday. I wouldn’t instruct an expert again who caused that kind of stress.

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listsandbudgets · 17/06/2022 13:17

Yes court dates can shift about.

I had to give evidence in high court some years ago (not as an expert) and I travelled to London the night before to do it the next day only to be told an hour after I'd arrived that it had been moved a day later. I know an expert witness was also inconvenienced in that case. Courts are also known to reschedule hearings at the last moment - e.g. judge being unavailable.

Of course, everything might go entirely to plan but I'd not want to bank on it. I'd also be concerned about whether the necessary flights would be available given all the problems with airports etc.

It's not convenient and it's not pleasant and the timing is rubbish but unfortunately I'd say he's right to be cautious 😥

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Verite1 · 17/06/2022 13:19

I’m a lawyer. Normally we have dates when experts are unavailable and the court will work round it. It might be worth your DH asking if a firm date can be agreed with the other side and the trial judge in advance on the basis that he is not going to be in the country. As an opposing lawyer I would always agree with that.

Alternatively find out if he can give evidence by video link

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kirinm · 17/06/2022 13:33

God don't do the evidence by video link - it involves an application to the court and relying on the court having the technology and then the instructing solicitor trying to ensure there is a reliable internet link (I've done it from Australia once and it was a nightmare). Counsel can summons him anyway. He needs to make himself available. That is what he has been paid for and given the problems with air travel at the moment, if my expert was stuck in a different country I would be furious. He ought to have been trial dates before you booked your holiday and / or should have given details of his availability.

There is still a chance it could settle but I'd be prepared to either postpone or go without him.

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kirinm · 17/06/2022 13:37

Whoever your husband is instructed by won't instruct him again if he misses the trial or causes issues that add to the stress of trial prep.

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Middaymatters · 17/06/2022 13:39

Thank you all. From what you are saying I can understand why he’s being cautious especially in light of all the issues with flights etc.
It is medic legal if I’m using the right terminology?? He’s a doctor.
He has told his team about the holiday and they are sympathetic and do have him timetabled to a certain day, he’s just heard (like you’ve all said) that that date isn’t necessarily set in stone. I just wondered about how much notice he would be given if it did change.
Would you expect him to be paid for the entire duration of the trial or just the day he is needed?
We know it’s the risk of the role- just v bad timing this time. Fingers crossed it does settle early!

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kirinm · 17/06/2022 13:50

Honestly, cases can settle up to and on the day of trial itself or during the trial so he may receive very short notice if he suddenly isn't needed.

Certainly in the work I do (I don't do injury work), we'd pay the expert his court fee and then probably fees for the time he can't work either but we probably wouldn't be asking him to be available for the entirety of the trial either. Your husband will know the answer to that question though.

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HDready · 17/06/2022 16:01

It’s medicolegal, so you’re almost right 😀if it’s in the high court, they won’t know until a few days before if they are starting on the first day of the trial window or not. For example, if they are due to start on Monday they would know today whether they are starting then or another day next week. Trials are so unusual, particularly in clinical negligence, that there is a lot of uncertainty until the last minute unfortunately. If they get an efficient judge he might get on before the Thursday and be able to fly out sooner.

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Toughtimesagain · 17/06/2022 16:03

He should be able to arrange to attend via CVP which is the courts video platform. I cover court cases as part of my job and see a lot of expert witnesses appearing remotely now they have the technology in place.

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Verite1 · 18/06/2022 14:16

Yes - all civil courts have video link technology in place - it’s the norm now. In fact last few trials I did, all the expert/professional evidence was by video link. No biggie at all!

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Verite1 · 18/06/2022 14:21

Alternatively I would ask legal team to ask judge on first day of trial for a firm 2 day window. They can always juggle witnesses around if need be - happens all the time.

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Chucklecheeks01 · 29/06/2022 16:06

Its simple to sort, speak to who has instructed your DH to attend and ask that they sort out a CVP link. As long as you have the IT infrastructure where you are going on holiday its easy to do; you only need a lap top and steady WIFI.
I work in the courts and its a daily occurrence.

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