You should check whether certain professionals should be regarded as “experts” or not. To meet the description “witness”, the expert does not have to be actually called to give evidence.

Generally speaking, a witness may be deemed to be an expert where:

  • They are consulted to give an opinion on a matter arising in litigation.
  • They have professional skills or qualifications which make such an opinion valuable.
  • They would not have been involved as a witness in the case had one of the parties not specifically asked them to give such an opinion.

Someone skilled and expert in their field may be cited and give evidence, but does not need our sanction if the evidence is factual.

The following notes may help you decide whether you need our approval for certain witnesses as experts.

Inquiry agent

Inquiry agents are reporting on facts as they find them as a result of their investigations, and should not be treated as expert witnesses. You may, however, need our prior approval if the work is of an unusual nature or is likely to involve unusually large expenditure costing over £2,000.

Interpreter or translator

We treat the use of an interpreter or translator as an ordinary outlay, for which you do not need our prior authority. When you send us your account, you will have to satisfy us that the outlay was actually, necessarily and reasonably incurred.

GP and a hospital doctor

Family doctors are not classed as experts, even though they have specialised medical knowledge. Such a witness would be giving evidence on complaints made to them about a client’s symptoms and the treatment they gave. You do not need special authority to employ a general practitioner.

Hospital doctors below the status of consultant may have to speak to injuries they have observed and treatment given, but they would be classed as witnesses as to fact and you do not need special authorisation.

Medical consultants may or may not count as an expert witnesses, depending on whether they are speaking to treatment they have given to someone or whether they have been consulted specially for an opinion in connection with a prosecution.

Photographer

Photographers employed to take photographs of a locus are not classed as expert witnesses.

In this section

Approval for an expert witness

Application for the employment of an expert witness

Find out when and how you can get prior approval for the employment of an expert witness.

Approval for an expert witness

Employment of expert witnesses

Find out when and how to get approval for an expert witness.