If a dispute goes to court, surveyors' reports will generally be prepared by each side to identify areas in which they agree, and where they differ in finding or interpretation. The court may also ask for a survey report for the court itself. The surveyor acting has a primary responsibility to the court and needs to understand the requirements of CPR 35.
YDSA surveyors can act as expert witnesses in disputes. The role of the expert witness in a legal process is often pivotal in Court, supporting or disproving the arguments of a party to the proceedings, and as such their statements are highly valued and closely scrutinised.
Expert reports must adhere to detailed and stringent rules governing content. They must contain details of the expert's qualifications, the facts which form the basis for the opinion, summaries of other possible theories as well as the conclusion reached and the sources consulted. Importantly, the expert must state that they understand the duties they owe to the Court, and conclude their report with a statement of truth in the prescribed form.
When a party in a dispute is seeking to strengthen their case on an issue involving a vessel, surveyors are therefore a natural choice. It is important to select a surveyor with experience appropriate to the case in hand, taking into account their areas of specialisation. Prior to a court hearing there is often a meeting of experts. In this meeting the appointed experts establish which areas they agree and disagree with the other side, thereby reducing court time.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Some disputes go to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This covers mediation, conciliation and arbitration which can be provided by qualified ADR specialists, often solicitors. A joint expert report may be required to assist the proceedings. They are not heard in a court, but the outcome may be agreed as legally binding on all parties.
The duties of the expert can be seen in full detail at the Ministry of Justice website.