Professionals may see insurance premiums rise lawyers warn after landmark judgment

Construction professionals who appear in court as expert witnesses will no longer have immunity from prosecution, after a landmark Supreme Court judgment.

A judicial panel of seven of the UK’s top judges ruled expert witnesses should lose their 400-year-old protection in a ruling yesterday. The ruling means expert witnesses are no longer immune from claims arising from their testimony and related work.

The historic decision follows a complaint by motorcyclist Paul Wynne Jones who was injured after he was hit by a car in Liverpool in March 2001.

Jones issued proceedings for negligence against two expert witnesses in his civil case for compensation, after their damaging testimony resulted in much-reduced damages.

His case was struck out by the High Court, but was referred up to the Supreme Court as a matter of general public importance. Lawyers warned the ruling may result in increased insurance premiums for professionals.

Rupert Choat, partner at CMS Cameron McKenna, said: “Specialist firms and individuals who practise as expert witnesses may see an increase in their insurance premiums, but it should be limited.”