In the context of revising my book,’The DIY’ Guide to Civil Forensic Psychiatry’ I came across a paper by Tina Cockburn And Bill Madden entitled
This paper gives a comprehensive overview of the current situation regarding expert witnesses and liability in Australia. By contrast with the UK, New Zealand and Canada where expert witnesses are not immune for negligence suits, in Australia we are still immune from negligence suit in relation to court work, and work done out of court which is intimately connected with the work in court. The latter is of particular significance in medical negligence litigation given that such claims most often resolve without a court hearing. However the the High Court of Australia in Attwells v Jackson Lalic Lawyers Pty Ltd upheld the advocates’ immunity from suit in negligence. Crucially however, the majority took a narrower approach as to the scope of the immunity by holding that it does not usually extend to negligent advice which leads to the settlement of a case by agreement between the parties. It is worth reading the article.
During the recent Forensic faculty Conference there was a paper given about the situation in the UK where it appears some expert witnesses have suffered draconian consequences! Let us hope the situation here remains unchanged.