06/13/2023 - UK Article: What is the Importance of the New Wording for the Statement of Truth ?

Expert witness organizations are alerting experts to an important revision to the Statement of Truth required in their reports. The latest update to the Practice Direction for the Civil Procedure Rules, known as the 122nd update, mandates a new wording for the Statement of Truth, which has been in effect since October 1st of this year.

The revised Statement of Truth that must now be used states: "I conffirm that I have clearly indicated which facts and matters mentioned in this report are based on my personal knowledge and which are not. I confirm the truthfulness of the facts within my knowledge. The opinions expressed in this report represent my honest and comprehensive professional views on the matters they pertain to.

"I am aware that making a false statement in a document verified by a Statement of Truth, without a genuine belief in its truth, may result in being held in contempt of court."

To ensure preparedness for the forthcoming change, it would be adviseable to update report templates promptly. Even though the mandatory implementation is set for October 1st, experts are permitted to use the new wording immediately.

This development aligns with the ongoing professionalisation of the expert witness industry and underscores the courts' trust in and reliance on experts who draft reports.

The revised wording originates from the case of Liverpool Victoria Insurance Co Ltd v Zafar [2019] EWCA Civ 392, wherein the Court of Appeal provided guidance to judges regarding contempt of court actions against expert witnesses.

In that case, Dr. Zafar included information in his report at the request of the solicitors who had instructed him. This information contradicted his actual findings during examination of the claimant and included an opinion on prognosis, suggested by the solicitor, which did not reflect his own views. The court determined that Dr. Zafar had displayed, at the very least, recklessness regarding the truthfulness of the information, if not outright dishonesty, by including it in his report. Consequently, he was found in contempt of court and subject to potential punishment, such as fines or imprisonment.

The Court of Appeal ruled that an expert witness found to be either dishonest or reckless concerning the accuracy of their reports should receive an immediate one-year prison sentence.

The new wording for the Statement of Truth holds significant importance for several reasons:

Enhanced Clarity and Accountability: The revised wording explicitly requires experts to differentiate between facts within their own knowledge and those outside their personal knowledge. This promotes clarity and ensures that experts take responsibility for the accuracy of the information they provide.

Strengthening the Integrity of Reports: By confirming the truthfulness of facts within their own knowledge and expressing genuine professional opinions, experts reinforce the integrity and reliability of their reports. This helps to maintain the high standards expected in the expert witness industry.

Legal Consequences: The new wording emphasises the potential legal consequences for making false statements in documents verified by a Statement of Truth. It warns experts that they may face proceedings for contempt of court if they include such false statements without an honest belief in their truth. This reinforces the seriousness of providing accurate and truthful information.

Professionalization of the Expert Witness Industry: The introduction of the new wording aligns with the ongoing professionalisation of the expert witness industry. It signifies the courts' increased trust and reliance on experts and their reports, ensuring that experts uphold ethical standards and maintain the integrity of their work.

Overall, the new wording for the Statement of Truth reinforces accountability, accuracy, and the importance of providing reliable expert opinions, thereby bolstering the credibility of expert witness reports within the legal system.