When is an expert not an expert?

  • Published: January 29, 2020
  • Author: Fiona Horlick QC, Outer Temple Chambers

~ Fiona Horlick QC, Outer Temple Chambers

Fiona Horlick QC succeeds in demonstrating that an expert called by the GMC in proceedings against a consultant surgeon did not have the expertise to give a suitably qualified opinion.

As a result there was no case for Fiona’s client to answer.

Fiona represented a renowned Consultant Vitreoretinal Surgeon who faced complex allegations in a MPTS hearing concerning the consequences of vitreoretinal surgery that he had carried out including allegations concerning a suprachoroidal haemorrhage and carrying out a procedure that was not clinically indicated.

In order to support its case, the GMC called an Ophthalmic Surgeon who had to admit under cross-examination by Fiona that he was not a vitreoretinal surgeon, that he had never performed a vitreoretinal procedure independently, had only ever seen one, minor haemorrhage in his career, that he had no idea how to manage such an emergency and would have to refer it to a vitreoretinal surgeon.

The Tribunal concluded they could not rely on any of his evidence.

The principles covering expert evidence are set out in the case law, in the Civil Procedure Rules and in the Criminal Procedure Rules. There is a requirement that experts should only give an opinion within matters of their own expertise and should make clear if a particular issue falls outside such expertise.

Allegations brought by the GMC are heard by a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) tribunal. Doctors can face erasure from the Medical Register.

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