Expert evidence reliability: the criminal, civil, family trichotomy

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Abstract

The reliability of expert evidence has become a major problem for the criminal, civil and family courts in recent years. First, the admission of unreliable expert evidence has the potential to result in miscarriages of justice if the courts fail to identify the limited probative value of such evidence. Secondly, even where the limited probative value of such evidence is eventually identified by the tribunal of fact, its admission may have already imposed financial burdens upon the increasingly limited funding available in the criminal, civil and family justice systems. Reforms have taken place in all three jurisdictions but have not been consistent and academic analysis of them tends to concentrate on one specific context rather than adopting a global approach. This paper will identify the principal causes of unreliability, contrast and compare the reforms that have taken place in the three jurisdictions and consider whether there are lessons to be learned from each that can be transferred to the others.

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