… it cannot be right … to allow an obvious “quack” … to speak to a subject in a supposed expert way in relation to which he has no qualifications …

by expoƒunction

If the case, as this one was, is to be based, to a material extent, on expert evidence, it is of the utmost importance that the experts chosen by the prosecutor to provide evidence supportive of the charge of murder should have the relevant qualifications, competence, expertise and experience to speak to the matters they are invited to give evidence about. The matters about which they are to be invited to give evidence about must themselves be clearly defined so that their competence to speak to them can be readily identified and confirmed. In Dickson Evidence (3rd edition), the writer in dealing with the evidence of witnesses of matters of opinion at para 398 states:

“A foundation for such an examination must always be laid by ascertaining whether the witness is a person of skill or an ‘expert’ (the English term) under which is included those have a theoretical acquaintance with the subject, as well as one who speaks from practical knowledge”

A modern statement of the position is to be found in Davidson: Evidence at para 11.13 in the following terms:

“It is for the court to be satisfied whether a particular individual tendered as an expert does have sufficient relevant expertise to assist the court, and if this is not established the evidence of that witness is not admissible, even if the opposing party raises no objection.”


Putting matters colloquially it cannot be right for a trial judge to allow an obvious “quack” doctor to speak to a subject in a supposed expert way in relation to which he has no qualifications …

from [49], OPINION OF THE COURT, delivered by LORD CLARKE
[2013] HCJAC 47, Appeal No: XC42/12