Criminal Procedure Rules Update
A new number and a new duty too
The Criminal Procedure Rules (CrimPR) have been updated and Part 33 on Expert Evidence has been renumbered as Part 19. This revision has also strengthened the duties on expert witnesses to help the court achieve its overriding objective (that criminal cases be dealt with justly). What was 33.2(1) and read:
‘(1) An expert must help the court to achieve the overriding objective by giving opinion which is –
(a) objective and unbiased; and
(b) within the expert’s area or areas of expertise.’
... is now 19.2(1) and reads:
’(1) An expert must help the court to achieve the overriding objective –
(a) by giving opinion which is –
(i) objective and unbiased, and
(ii) within the expert’s area or areas of expertise; and
(b) by actively assisting the court in fulfilling its duty of case management under rule 3.2, in particular by –
(i) complying with directions made by the court, and
(ii) at once informing the court of any significant failure (by the expert or another) to take any step required by such a direction.’
So there’s an additional duty to report anyone involved in the case who does not comply with a court order. While clearly designed to ensure the court’s purpose isn’t subverted by inaction, it may hold some potential to sour relationships between experts and others. However, an expert’s duty to the court overrides all else, so any souring in relationships will have to be managed should they arise.
The associated practice direction has also been renumbered to match, and now provides official support for the use of the shorthand ‘CrimPR’ to refer to the Criminal Procedure Rules and to distinguish them from the CPR (Civil Procedure Rules).