Many solicitors dislike experts' meetings. That is not to say that we do not consider them to be a useful part of the litigation process. Rather we dislike the fact that it is one of the few times during a case where we must relinquish control. Our hope is that following the meeting we don't encounter any unpleasant surprises when the resulting experts' joint statement lands upon our desk.
When such surprises occur, at best they result in unnecessary work for everyone involved to try to resolve any problems that arise and at worst they can, unintentionally, jeopardise a whole case. The costs incurred in trying to remedy any problems can be substantial and potentially irrecoverable at the conclusion of a case.
If experts are mindful of the following points it will reduce the prospect of such unintentional consequences occurring.
Preparation (is key)
If your instructing solicitor has not proposed a conference between the exchange of expert evidence and the experts' meetings and you consider that one would be helpful, do not be afraid to say so. It may be that in some cases a full conference with counsel will be overkill but if you have issues you feel need to be discussed then a telephone conference can be arranged. It is important that any concerns or issues arising from your review of the other side's evidence are addressed before the meeting.
Read everything again. Look over the relevant medical records, your statement, your report and all other expert reports. Consider whether you have seen everything and whether there is anything referred to in the other side's evidence which you may not have seen. Also, consider whether there is anything the opponent's expert does not seem to have seen or considered. There may have been disclosure of relevant documentation since you prepared your report that may impact upon your views. It is undesirable to be ambushed during an experts' meeting with a new document or to subsequently find out that your opposite number had the benefit of seeing evidence you had not.
Your instructing solicitor should send any new relevant documentation to you without prompting but this may not always happen in practice. This occurred recently within our own department when it became apparent following an experts' meeting that our expert had access to a document fundamental to the case that the opponent's expert had not seen. This had a direct impact on the evidence given and had the matter proceeded to trial, could...