Expert evidence on websites in small claims cases can be as vital as in any case, to assist the Court and bring clarity to the position of either, or both parties. There are still aspects of procedure worth bearing in mind:
- You should seek permission to use expert evidence, sections of questionnaires provided by the Court will apply.
- Whilst not obligatory, if both parties are seeking expert evidence, the Court is likely to prefer a single expert.
- An expert giving oral evidence in small claims cases is unusual, normally a written report and written questions.
- Even where you are able to recover expert costs, there is a set limit to the sum they can amount to, as below.
None of these lessen the value of expert evidence in small claims, the evidence simply needs to be tailored to a less formal environment.
The Ministry of Justice state that an objective of small claims is to meet “The need for parties to access justice without undue formality.” Even though the claim limit is now £10,000, costs for legal advice are in the main not recoverable.
For our work however, there is more leeway. The limit on recoverable expert costs in small claims was raised from £200 to £750 in 2013, quite a jump.
This is for all stages, not just the written report. The increase was still welcome, we can in most cases work within, or below the limit and provide an accurate report to meet the needs of the Court.
Small Claims Approach
All courts wish to control the amount of expert evidence given and in small claims, strict rules of evidence do not fully apply, time is limited, a concise report may be preferred.
This does not make them less needed. Bearing in mind the technical nature of website dispute cases, well prepared evidence can be of value to the Court.
As with any case, instructions, key questions and required insight deserve a high level of care. The expert witness should simply bear in mind available court time and approach, to make their input more effective.
We hope that outlining the rationale of small claims evidence has helped. These minor aspects apart, our expert witness service works in the same way as they would for any court, the same level of expertise is offered.
The need to ensure expert evidence is easy to access and understand is perhaps more essential in small claims, with time and legal support levels at a minimum.
Above all, our objective is to ensure legal fairness in a complex field, presenting neutral evidence, to remove barriers and contribute to rational justice.
A Balanced Approach
Experts have a duty to serve the court and present unbiased evidence. Beyond being a duty, we believe that telling it as it is ultimately helps everyone, one reason we adhere to a code of conduct.
If you came directly to this page, you can find an overview of expert evidence on this website and more on technical aspects of our work.
We have to charge for our services, although our first wish is to help people with difficulties on the web. You are welcome to contact us for advice at no cost.