The Civil Justice Council’s Civil Litigation Review Working Group has released a report on the rarely used provisions in the CPR for “hot-tubbing” expert witnesses. Hot-tubbing was introduced in 2013 as part of the Jackson reforms. It involves judge-led questioning and the court hearing concurrent evidence from experts in a particular field.
The working group surveyed judges, lawyers and experts on how well the new procedures were working. Feedback suggested that hot-tubbing results in significant time savings at trial and improves the quality and understanding of expert evidence. However, respondents were less convinced that it leads to cost-savings.
The report suggests that further guidance is needed, including when hot-tubbing might be appropriate and how to ensure procedural fairness. The working group considered the role counsel should play where questioning is led by the judge and whether concerns about losing control might be leading to unwillingness to throw experts into the hot-tub.
The working group has proposed amendments to the relevant Practice Direction; a new guidance note for judges and practitioners; and an information note for experts to help promote understanding and adoption of the new process.
For further information, please contact Steven Mash, Partner, Fladgate LLP (firstname.lastname@example.org)