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Prepare to be challenged, would-be expert witnesses warned

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EXPERT WITNESSES at planning inquiries are often shocked by the adversarial nature of the proceedings and are unprepared to be challenged on every word of evidence they present, a London seminar heard this week.

Delegates to the seminar 'Giving expert evidence in public inquiries', organised by Professional Solutions & Services in association with the Institute of Highway Incorporated Engineers, heard that engineers and planners could find themselves in difficulty unless they prepared thoroughly for their appearance.

'Don't wear blinkers,' barrister Jonathan Clay advised. 'Make sure you read all the evidence to be presented -by your side as well as the opposition.'

Fellow speaker and barrister Celina Colquhoun said it was normal for witnesses to be nervous. 'All good witnesses are nervous... Danger comes when you are over-tired and under-prepared - but chiefly if you are complacent or over-confident about the strength of your case.'

Delegates later put the advice to the test in a simulated planning inquiry chaired by Anthony Dinkin QC. 'Witnesses' were crossexamined by Clay and Colquhoun, and their performance discussed by all the delegates.Contact the IHIE on (020) 7823 9093 Society of Expert Witnesses (0345) 023014 UK Register of Expert Witnesses (01638) 561590 Professional Solutions and Services (020) 7356 0838

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