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Expert evidence continues to play a major role in civil litigation and criminal prosecution, as well as in administrative regulation. Moreover, the field of expertise in law has become the site of numerous contemporary controversies over judicial standards for admissibility of expertise, how to evaluate the reliability of expert testimony and the ethics of experts and attorneys who present expert testimony. This subject is primarily a detailed examination of the law and policy of the regulation of expert evidence in Australia, as well as comparative reform movements of likely significance to Australia in the future, notably developments in the United States. The materials for the subject, most of which are from court files of actual cases, will emphasise the practical uses of expert evidence inside and outside the courtroom.
Principal topics include:
- The legal framework for regulating expert evidence
- Debate and controversies about expertise
- The admissibility of expert testimony
- Restrictions on the conduct of experts
- Use of expert evidence inside and outside courtrooms.
The above topics will be illuminated through the study of specific instances of expert evidence, conduct and regulation that have prompted change and reform or controversy in Australia or other countries, especially the United States.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the legal principles of Australian law on the admissibility of opinion evidence, including comparative developments in this field of law and practice
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the operation of these legal rules
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding the regulation of experts, expertise and expert evidence
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the factors and processes governing the use of expert evidence in civil and criminal proceedings
- Have an advanced understanding of the implications of the sociology of science in law for debates on the use of expert evidence
- Have a detailed understanding of comparative developments on the reception of expert evidence
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the use of expert evidence in litigation and to critically evaluate past and current instances of such use
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse emerging issues in the regulation of experts and expertise
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding the relationship between courts, professional experts and the scientific community to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of evidence law as it relates to experts.
Last updated: 30 October 2020