Sailesh Mehta, a barrister at Red Lion Chambers, reports on lessons learned from miscarriages of justice having prosecuted and defended in fire cases for 25 years, many of those cases involving fatalities and expert evidence.
Expert witnesses are now an accepted part of criminal and civil trials. Their evidence can be of great assistance to the Court to better comprehend a factual scenario which is outside the knowledge or experience of most people. The use of expert witnesses and the admissibility of their evidence has developed over the last 25o years, when the concept of allowing an expert to give opinion evidence on the facts was recognised by Lord Mansfield in the case of Folkes v. Chadd in 1782. Experts now regularly give evidence in criminal trials, in areas including DNA analysis, fingerprints, blood marks, photographic identification, cause of death, nature of firearms, drugs language etc.
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International Fire Professional February 2019 Issue No 27 29