New rules on instructing experts in family courts
Posted: in by Michelle Barron.
The new practice direction can be accessed here. The rules substitute a new Part 25 (Experts and Assessors) into the Family Procedure Rules and will apply to existing proceedings as well as those started after today’s date. In addition, controlling the use of expert evidence has been added to Rule 1.4 of the Family Procedure Rules governing active case management. The key changes to the existing Part 25 include:
- a change to the test for permission to put expert evidence before the court from ‘reasonably required’ to ‘necessary’.
- a list of factors to which the court is to have regard in reaching a decision whether to give permission, including the impact on the timetable and conduct of the proceedings and the cost of the expert evidence. Additional factors are specified in proceedings involving children. These include what other expert evidence is available, including any obtained before the start of proceedings, and whether the evidence could be obtained from another source, such as one of the parties or professionals already involved in the case;
- in proceedings involving children, an application for permission to instruct an expert should state the questions which the expert is required to answer and, where permission is granted, the court will give directions specifying the questions that are to be put to the expert.