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Lord WoolfAs we are nearing the second anniversary of the introduction of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), it is time to look at how some of the reforms are working in practice. One linchpin of the new system is the court’s power to limit the use of experts in court proceedings. The appointment of one (or more) experts per party vastly increased the cost and duration of proceedings. Other countries, notably France and Germany, where court-appointed experts are the norm, fared much better in terms of costs comparison. Would a single expert system work in England too? A recent report by the Lord Chancellor’s Department on ‘Civil Justice Reform Evaluation’, 2 April, 2001, suggests that under the old system, 25% of cases involved expert evidence. On a court service analysis of claims under the new system, 36% of trials involved expert witnesses, of which 22% were instructed by one party. Does this point to a growing acceptance of the single expert system?

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