A ‘hot-tubbing’ pilot in Manchester produced positive results, Lord Neuberger has told expert witnesses.
Addressing the Expert Witness Institute annual conference in October, Lord Neuberger told delegates that courts are adopting a more inquisitorial approach to expert evidence.
The Australian model of ‘hot-tubbing’ or ‘concurrent evidence’ is an example of this that could be used in the future, depending on the results of the pilot, he said.
Experts from both sides are sworn in, summarise their positions and ask each other questions without the intervention of counsel.
They then summarise their positions again, and the court proceeds to cross-examination in the conventional way. Its supporters believe it may increase the quality of evidence as well as save time and costs. Lord Neuberger said: “There is a powerful case for thinking that hot-tubbing not only increases evidential scrutiny but also objectivity and the court’s ability to find the truth.”
So far, two cases in the pilot have reached final judgment, and hot-tubbing “appears to have resulted in the promised reduction in cost,” he said. “And the parties and their legal representatives appear to have been generally happy with the process. Early indications are therefore positive. If further results are equally positive, we will be in a position to expand the pilot to other courts, and then introduce it formally within the CPR.”