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‘Fiji Lacks Expert Witnesses’

‘Fiji Lacks Expert Witnesses’
Members of Legal fraternity during Fiji Law Society convention at Novotel in Lami yesterday. Photo: Ronald Kumar
September 27
10:44 2015

There is a lack of expert witnesses in Fiji, says Professor Eddie McCaig during the Fiji Law Society Convention last Friday at the Novotel Suva Lami Bay.

The 62-year-old made his comments after the presentation of papers on Expert Witness by B C Patel, a barrister from Auckland, New Zealand and Chen Bun Young, Principal of Young and Associates.

Professor from Fiji National University McCaig has been giving expert evidence in court over a number of years and describes expertise in medicine as a’nightmare.’

He said in order to be expert witness, one not only needed to have a number of years of experience and be assessed by peers, but to have qualification as well.

“In the medical field, you become an expert after 15 years of practice to be able to be called in Court as an expert witness,” he said.

“We have training for our medical practitioners, a Masters degree is also being offered so that people from our medical profession do not go abroad.

“Previously we have had doctors and nurses leaving the country for further studies or practices because we did not have higher level of studies here.”

He said there were 80 graduates who went to Australasia for fellowship training, however, only one returned.

“We have a lack of expertise in this area.”

He suggested that experts be spoken to before any case or before they are called in to give expert evidence.

“There are lots of jargons involved and experts are supposed to be unbiased, but if expert witnesses are at least briefed, then it will be good.”

Meanwhile, Mr Patel and Mr Young encouraged lawyers while interviewing expert witnesses to use simple English and not in experts terms.

Feedback: farisha.ahmed@fijisun.com.fj

 

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