Rogers and Another v Hoyle: QBD 23 May 2013

The claimant’s relative had died in an air accident. They sought damages from the defendant pilot, seeking to rely upon the official report of the Air Accident Investigation Bureau The court was asked as to its admissibility.
Held: It was admissible.
Leggatt J said: ‘It is not, however, the function of an expert to express opinions on disputed issues of fact which do not require any expert knowledge to evaluate. However, as the judge observed, it is common to find in many expert’s reports opinions of that character, which are not helpful and to which the court would not have regard. As to those he thought it preferable: ‘to treat this as a question of weight rather than admissibility, particularly since there is no clear point at which an expert’s specialised knowledge and experience ceases to inform and give some added value to the expert’s opinions. It is a matter of degree. The more the opinions of the expert are based on special knowledge, the greater (other things being equal) the weight to be accorded to those opinions.’
Insofar as an expert’s report does no more than opine on facts which require no expertise of his to evaluate, it is inadmissible and should be given no weight on that account. But, as the judge also observed, there is nothing to be gained, except in very clear cases, from excluding or excising opinions in this category. I agree with what he said in para 117 of his judgment:
‘Such an exercise is unnecessary and disproportionate especially when such statements are intertwined with others which reflect genuine expertise and there is no clear dividing line between them. In such circumstances, the proper course is for the whole document to be before the court and for the judge at trial to take account of the report only to the extent that it reflects expertise and to disregard it in so far as it does not. As Thomas LJ trenchantly observed in Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform v Aaron [2008] EWCA Civ 1146 at para 39: ‘It is my experience that many experts report views on matters on which it is for the court to make its decision and not for an expert to express a view. No modern or sensible management of a case requires putting the parties to the expense of excision; a judge simply ignores that which is inadmissible’.’
The judge concluded that the whole of the Report was admissible, it being a matter for the trial judge to make use of the Report as he or she thought fit. Even if he had concluded that it contained some inadmissible material he would not have thought it sensible to engage in an editing exercise. The trial judge should see the whole report and leave out of account any part of it that was inadmissible.
Subject to the second and third grounds of appeal, I agree with this conclusion. It is not apparent to me that any part of the Report should be regarded as simply expressing an opinion on matters of fact (as opposed to recording evidence) in relation to which the expertise of the AAIB has no relevance. But even if any part of the Report was (or proves on close analysis hereafter) to have that character, the correct approach is as outlined by the judge.’
Leggatt J
[2013] EWHC 1409 (QB), [2014] 3 WLR 148, [2015] 1 QB 265
Bailii
England and Wales
Cited by:
Appeal fromHoyle v Rogers and Another CA 13-Mar-2014
The appellant had been pilot in a private plane which crashed leading to the passenger’s death. He now challenged the admission of an expert’s report, which, he said, went beyond the proper range of such a report.
Held: The report was . .
CitedMoylett v Geldof and Another ChD 14-Mar-2018
Admissibility of parts of the Claimant’s expert report.
Held: ‘in so far as this report deals with whether this music was more likely to be composed on a guitar or on a piano, I consider that it is admissible and relevant expert evidence which . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 24 December 2020; Ref: scu.510035