The Federal Court of Australia has produced Guidelines for Expert Witnesses in Proceedings. These are available at www.fedcourt.gov.au/digital-law-library/judges-speeches/justice-middleton/Middleton-J-200710.rtf.
The guidelines are not intended to address all aspects of an expert witness’s duties, but are intended to facilitate the admission of opinion evidence, and to assist experts to understand in general terms what the Court expects of an expert witness giving opinion evidence. It is also hoped that the guidelines will assist individual expert witnesses to avoid the criticism that is sometimes made (whether rightly or wrongly) that expert witnesses lack objectivity, or have coloured their evidence in favour of the party calling them.
The Australian Council of Professions had previously published basic Guidelines on Role and Duties of Expert Witnesses.
The Blueprint for National Registration of the Professions has been developed by Professions Australia and its member organisations. Our objective is to promote and facilitate the implementation of national registration arrangements for those professions currently subject to state andterritory based regulation.
The Blueprint acknowledges that Australia is a single integrated market, exposed to domestic and international competition. National registration arrangements for individual professions are a logical step to promote competition and enhance the mobility of the professional workforce.
Reflecting our concern about the longer term economic and social impacts of ongoing professional skills shortages, Professions Australia has been working with our member associations to better understand the nature of these shortages (or in some instances – oversupply) and to explore possible approaches to better matching supply and demand over the longer term.
Our Education Committee has prepared a discussion paper “Skills Mapping: Assessing Australia’s Longer Term Requirements for Professional Skills”, which outlines some of the issues and makes recommendations on a possible way forward.
Professions Australia considers that a critical input into better matching the supply and demand for professional skills over the longer term is more comprehensive, robust and forward looking information on Australia’s likely future requirements for these skills, or “skills mapping”.
The objective of skills mapping would be to identify professional workforce issues, challenges and opportunities facing Australia over a 5-10 year timeframe to support broader based priority setting on a national level. In our view it is an essential input into a more cooordinated approach by all stakeholders to professional workforce planning and policy development.
Our paper has been circulated widely including to relevant Ministers and Opposition spokespeople.
For more information call 1300 664 587 or contact CEO@Professions.org.au. Thank You!
When called upon to act as an expert witness, a member shall conduct her/himself in accordance with the ‘Role and Duties of the Expert Witness’ set out by the Australian Council of Professions, which states:
- The role of the expert witness in litigation is to assist the court in the administration of justice by providing an opinion or factual information based on the expert’s competence in a subject which is outside the knowledge, skill or experience of most people. It is founded in the need for a court charged with the resolution of a matter for access to knowledge relevant to the matter which it does not possess of itself.
- It follows that the opinion is only useful if it is based on the expert’s area of competence, includes all relevant matters and is impartial and dispassionate.
- Thus the primary duty of an expert is to the court because of his or her role in the process as defined above. An expert is subject to the normal duty in respect of evidence of fact to be complete, accurate and truthful.
- The expert owes a second duty to the body of knowledge and understanding from which his or her expertise is drawn. This implies recognition of its limitations and the humility which should flow from such recognition, since the outcome of litigation is likely to influence the practical application of such knowledge and understanding in the future. It also implies dealing with the opinions of other competent experts in a respectful manner. It is important to the overall process that the integrity of the processes by which knowledge is acquired and understanding developed should not be degraded. Thus the secondary duty of the expert witness is to the body of knowledge and understanding.
- The expert witness owes a third duty to the party which has sought his or her advice. That duty is to provide the advice in the context of the first and second duties above, which implies that the expert should not be an advocate for a party. This is a tertiary duty.
See also the Federal Court of Australia’s Guidelines for Expert Witnesses in Proceedings.
The Australian Council of Professions’ policy on the recognition of overseas professional qualifications is as follows:
- each profession has the sole responsibility for setting and maintaining its standards within Australia;
- each profession should recognise the qualifications of an overseas trained professional only if that person is as competent to perform in the profession as a person trained in Australia;
- each profession has the sole responsibility for assessing qualifications gained overseas, together with other relevant factors, in order to determine whether an immigrant or potential immigrant is to be granted professional status within Australia;
- professions may defer recognition of an overseas qualification which is otherwise acceptable until the person concerned has a sufficient command of English for effective practice in Australia;
- professional recognition should be given to all who meet recognition requirements;
- professions should apply their tests based on the professional status, standing and competence of a person rather than on the route taken by that person to achieve this standing; and
- professions should keep under review their procedures of assessment of qualifications gained overseas and the basis on which assessments are made.
The Australian Council of Professions:
- encourages the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition in its publication of the “Compendium of Guidelines for Assessment of Overseas Qualifications 1990” and supports any expansion which may give more specific guidance in respect of particular professions: and
- requests the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition to continue its support of professions in their obtaining of information about overseas qualifications and to continue to provide financial and other assistance where appropriate.
Adopted at the General Meeting, 5 November 1990