In this week's column, PARN CEO Andy Friedman speaks to expert witness and governor at the Expert Witness Institute, Thomas Walford, about the challenges of being cross-examined for a living.
'Our primary duty is to the court and what we believe a reasonably competent person would have done in the circumstances. We do not have to act as an agent of our instructing solicitors or clients. In my terms and conditions is a clause enabling me to resign if I feel undue pressure to take a line I’m not happy with. I believe this is the definition of the ultimate professional.’
Dr Thomas Walford acts as an expert witness in finance and investment. He is a governor at the Expert Witness Institute.
‘The world changed particularly over the 2008 credit crunch. I have worked on interest rate hedging products, a means of protection against interest rate rises. Many who bought these products have suffered from the long period of very low rates and ended up paying more than if they had a floating rate loan. Deciding whether the issuing banks advised the clients correctly and whether they had a reasonable prospect of understanding the issues is very important when advising the court.’
It is difficult to predict what you will be asked in the witness box. Therefore you need to be very familiar with the case beforehand.
‘During cross examination you will be challenged regarding how appropriate your opinions are in relation to the case. This can be intimidating. It is up to you to justify why you should be considered an expert in this particular instance. The most important thing is to make sure you give full answers. Mention the assumptions and the limits to which your answer applies. You would not want any comment to be taken out of context. You never know when the cross examination will end. Once it has you cannot address anything that hasn’t been said. It does concentrate the mind.’
Professor Andy Friedman, CEO of PARN
First appeared in Newsweek, edn. 13 February 2015
Find Out More...
Feature in a future Newsweek column!
Subscribe to Newsweek with PARN's special offer