The new Master of the Roles has some big shocks for expert witnesses

Sir Geoffrey Vos has vowed to “radically rethink” civil justice, saying the UK legal system “needs to be ambitious in terms of digitalisation if it is to retain and enhance its status.”  He has some particularly radical ideas in mind for expert witnesses.

Mark Solon, who is chairing the annual Bond Solon Expert Witness Conference this Friday 5 November, says:

“In preparation for the conference, I had a briefing meeting at the RCJ with the new Master of the Rolls and keynote speaker, Sir Geoffrey Vos, as he was preparing his address.

I was shocked at what he plans to do with the civil justice system and the massive implications for experts. He is almost fanatical about converting the whole process to be online. In fact when I passed him a printed copy of the Conference brochure, he refused even to touch it and insisted on looking at it on screen. He said it was important to set an example.

He proposes radical changes to the way experts provide their evidence with a much greater unbundled approach saying current methods are “too lengthy, too costly and too elaborate.” He read extracts from his draft address (on screen of course) and experts will be in for some real shocks. In essence litigation will be much faster and all conducted on line. It may even mean the end of live oral evidence. He wants to make extensive use of “block chain” technology, a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system. He wants experts to bypass traditional expert reports and said: “the end of the Word is nigh” referring to the Microsoft Word programme.

The conference is the first occasion when he will set out how expert witnesses will fit into his vision.”

When

Sir Geoffrey is speaking at the Bond Solon Expert Witness Conference on Friday 5 November 2021 at 10 am.

Where

The conference has been held annually for 27 years and this year will run as a hybrid event, live at the Church House Conference Centre, Westminster and also live streamed.

Contact

If you wish to attend either in person or watch the live stream, please e mail: marie.nimer@bondsolon.com or call her on 020 7549 2549

Further details

Details of the speaker line up in the conference brochure pdf:

https://www.bondsolon.com/media/423698/ewc-2021-conference-brochure.pdf

Background on event

https://www.bondsolon.com/courses/annual-expert-witness-conference/

Previous comments by Sir Geoffrey

In a speech to the British Institute of International and Comparative Law he said: “Covid has added a new urgency to online dispute resolution….It has created a world full of remote hearings, from which many lawyers anyway are reluctant to retreat because of the convenience for them of not having to travel to courts in different places. To be blunt, remote…”

In a law Society webinar he said:

“On 9 October 2019, I spoke to the Civil Litigation Autumn Conference on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). In a speech that some through controversial, I said that history had shown that Lord Woolf’s reforms were inadequately revolutionary for the time, because the internet was in its infancy, emails were only just taking hold, social media was unheard of, and artificial intelligence was some way from reaching any kind of fulfilment. With hindsight, I said, such a foundational reform would better have waited another 10 or 15 years.Now is, I think, the time to undertake a fundamental generational reform of the civil justice system. I am not talking about big name reviews. Things move too fast for them to be any longer of great value.”

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