Forensic Science Experts for Criminal Defence Solicitors

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Money-saving madness: Court decides on which expert

Written by: Alan Baker 18th January, 2016

Any publicly funded expert recognises the need to protect public money. I’m also sure that most experts and the legal profession have “experienced” the LAA application process for the funding of expert evidence which can often be inconsistent. However, a recent case has demonstrated that seemingly Courts believe that they have a role in the selection process of expert evidence too.

A Crown Court Clerk recently said to Bericon that “if I find that the Solicitors acted unreasonably in instructing a distant expert then they will be liable to make up any shortfall.”

It does, of course, beg the questions as to how the Court representative is able to determine what is a “distant expert” (one assumes geographically speaking) and also what qualities and experience they have in determining the ability of an expert to do any work?

Bericon is, of course, challenging the Court’s ludicrous position on the above basis and that of restrictive practice.

Alongside the above we have also experienced a number of recent cases where cutting costs has adversely affected, in our view, the progress of criminal cases and most notably these include:

A case where the urine sample of complainant in a sexual assault case was not tested. We found that it contained alcohol and a Class A drug;

A case where cigarette ends at a murder scene were not tested for cannabis material (in fact they weren’t even found). We not only found the items but also that they did contain cannabis and this represented a significant aspect of the case;

A murder case where police only recovered selected items of clothing from the defendant. This may have been a situation where the officer didn’t realise the possible significance of any evidence but nevertheless illustrates that often it’s what has not been tested which is the key to a case.