Expert witnesses are key parts of arbitration proceedings. In fact, many proceedings are decided by the testimonies of these witnesses. It is therefore important to consider the process for their appointment and the full scope of their assignment.
How Do they Come on Board?
An expert witness in arbitration may be appointed by the parties to the proceeding or by the arbitral tribunal.
The arbitral tribunal, after consulting the parties to an arbitration proceeding, may appoint one or more experts. After this, the tribunal will define the experts’ terms of reference and receive their reports. The parties may request an opportunity to question such a witness at a hearing.
In other cases, Parties may appoint expert witnesses and bring them before the tribunal. The appointing party will however be fully responsible for the cost of employing the expert witness. Meanwhile, the expert witness will be expected to be unbiased and objective in the fulfilment of his duty.
THE ROLE OF EXPERT WITNESSES IN ARBITRATION
The primary function of the expert witness in arbitration is to assist the tribunal in reaching its decision by providing independent, expert analysis and opinions on an issue. Therefore, an expert witness is expected to have an independent, unbiased, and objective opinion, irrespective of the fact that his expenses may be covered by a party.
CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH THE USE OF EXPERT WITNESSES
Although the use of an expert in arbitration is less taxing, it comes with its own share of difficulty, like the issue of time.
Time is of great importance in arbitration and is one of the major reasons arbitration is favoured over litigation, It may, however, pose a problem to an expert witness who may be required to give his opinion on a particular matter within a short period of time.
Also, there is the challenge of having to remain objective in the discharge of his/her duty especially when he had been part instructed or appointed.
It is obvious that the importance of an expert witness cannot be overemphasized. Notwithstanding, it is advisable that in employing the use of expert witnesses the appointment by the arbitral tribunal should be given the nod. It will ensure the use of experts who may be able to remain objective and unbiased.