The quality and presentation of expert evidence is important in assisting SAT to make reliable and correct decisions in the many areas of its jurisdiction. Experience shows that, when expert witnesses understand and observe their obligation to bring to proceedings an objective assessment of the issues within their expertise, their evidence is of great assistance. When expert witnesses are not objective and assume the role of advocate for a party, their credibility suffers.
To maximise the value of expert evidence, SAT has developed standard procedures requiring expert conferrals to prepare joint report, and for experts to give evidence together.
SAT can make an order requiring the expert witnesses in each field of expertise to confer with one another without the parties present, either on their own or before a SAT member, and prepare a joint statement of expert evidence.
A conferral between expert witnesses is not mediation, and its purpose is not to settle the matter or compromise on issues by negotiation. Rather, the purpose of an experts’ conferral is to assist SAT to resolve the matter correctly, quickly, and with minimum costs to the parties.
The experts create a joint statement which outlines:
- the issues arising in the proceedings which are within their expertise;
- the matters upon which they agree in relation to those issues;
- the matters upon which they disagree in relation to those issues; and
- the reasons for any disagreement.
The experts must each sign the joint statement at the conclusion on their conferral. If the statement is in handwriting the experts must appoint one of them to generate a typed version.
The experts must file the joint statement with SAT and give copies of it to the parties by the date specified in SAT’s order. Late filing may result in an adjournment of the hearing causing inconvenience, delay and expense for the parties, witnesses and SAT. It is therefore important for experts to adhere to the timetable set by SAT’s orders.
The joint statement will be admitted into evidence at the hearing and a party will not be permitted to present any evidence inconsistent with the joint statement unless SAT grants leave.
Last updated: 21 August 2023
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