Monday, November 22, 2010

Experts in Litigation

An issue that often arises in Omani litigation is the importance of experts.

Unlike in many other countries, the courts in Oman only recognise one expert - the expert appointed by the court. Therefore, the crux of many Omani cases is proving one's viewpoint to the satisfaction of the court-appointed expert.

That is not to say that the Omani courts always agree with their appointed expert. There are occasions where the courts totally override what the expert has concluded. Such a situation normally only happens where the courts decide that a provision of law is the reason why they wish to negate the expert's findings.

The court-appointed expert often will base his report on his oral discussions in meeting separately with each of the litigants. The litigants are each free to bring along to these meetings their legal advisors and any other technical third-party personnel.

In other words, if a litigant has a supportive report from a third-party expert, it is not enough to merely exhibit that document. The litigant should ensure that the writer of that report – i.e., the litigant’s own third-party expert – comes to the meetings with the court-appointed expert.

As a practical matter, the Omani courts place very little weight on the reports prepared by the litigants’ third-party experts. The courts want to hear what their own appointed expert has decided having read the relevant papers and having met with the litigants and with any individuals which the litigants bring to such meetings.

A final but important consideration: often the court-appointed experts wish to converse only in Arabic. This is a factor which should always be borne in mind, especially in choosing a litigant’s expert.