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On Expert’s mission

The expert’s mission: the importance of open questions

Asking a question is not an innocent thing to do

by Raimond Giard*

How should a lawyer phrase the expert’s mission ? This has long been a topic of research and discussion. And until now, there have been no satisfying answers. In many cases, the expert is meant to explain how a certain event may have happened – an analysis. Meanwhile, the legal intervention’s purpose is to assess whether or not a party or a suspect can be held responsible – a value judgement. The difference we are suggestion hints at the answer : there is a judicial goal and a de fact issue. If they are clearly distinct from one another, if the issue is phrased correctly and answered in a satisfying manner, it should be possible to get closer to the ideal image of the expert’s report, truly trustworthy and judicially useful.

*Pr Dr. Dr. R.W.M. Giard is a methodology and liability professor at the Erasmus School of Law, civil law department, Erasmus Universiteit of Rotterdam. He is also the editor of this journal. Many thanks to Siewert Lindenbergh and Willem van Boom for their critical comments on previous versions of this article.

The original Dutch version of this article was published in the journal Expertise en Recht, Eer 2013, vol 2.

The experts’ errors

Who is hiding behind the expertise ?

by Raimond Giard*

From the beginning to the end, man, and not technology, determines the integrity of the evidence.
A.P.A Broeders**

In order to adjudicate civil, administrative or penal litigations, it is often necessary to obtain the opinion of one or more specialists. How can one ensure that the expert, whether hired by a party or not, fully participates in the resolution of a legal case ? This requires a clear definition of the issue(s) and the use of a suitable research method, tasks which the most qualified expert(s) will have to carry out. But to what legal, professional and ethical norms does an expert have to answer ? There are legal limits, these are the expert certified organisations and professional organisations from which experts come and which are responsible for their actions. However, the person of the expert is always the weakest link : his or her pride can stand in the way of truth. Experts have to be able to work in a context in which their commitment is required and in which they will be expected to justify themselves more.

* Pr Dr. Dr. R.W.M. Giard is a methodology and liability professor at the Erasmus School of Law, civil law department, Erasmus Universiteit of Rotterdam. He is also the editor of this journal. Many thanks to Gert Harverkate, Ton Broederset and Han Israels for their critical comments on previous versions of this article.

The original Dutch version of this article was published in the journal Expertise en Recht, Eer 2014, vol 3.

This version includes a few alterations from the previously published one.

**Doctoral dissertation 8 by A.P.A Broeders, Op zoek naar de bron. Over de grondslagen van de criminalistiek en de waardering van het forensisch bewijs (diss. Leiden), Deventer : Kluwer 2003.

Documents

  • The experts’ errors: who is hiding behind the expertise? (pdf 91.3 kb) Download
  • The expert’s mission: the importance of open questions (pdf 105.8 kb) Download
Institut Européen de l’expertise et de l’expert
Mailing address  : EEEI Jean-Raymond LEMAIRE, 38, rue de Villiers - 92532 Levallois-Perret cedex - France Tel : +33(0)1 41 49 07 60 - Fax : +33(0)1 41 49 02 89