Tue, Jan. 20, 2004

Expert Witness Liability in International Context

CK - Washington.   Wolfgang Hau, professor of law at Passau University in Bavaria, examines in his recent article Gerichtssachverständige in Fällen mit Auslandsbezug, 49 Recht der Internationalen Wirtschaft 822 et seq. (2002), the liability of court-appointed expert witnesses in international cases. Unlike other commentators, Hau appears to encourage courts to use foreign experts if the circumstances warrant. In the context of the German procedural rules, he explains the use of experts, which generally are appointed by the court and not by the parties, and then turns to a detailed analysis of international conflicts of laws rules that bear on the liability for expert opinions. He examines the power of the courts to make experts accept assignments, or, in the case of experts residing abroad, the lack of such power, as well as the use of experts in manners that potentially violate the sovereignty of other nations or avoid such violations.

Hau's analysis is in-depth and persusasively presented in a very readable manner. In light of the American trend to withdraw immunity from expert witnesses, his article is recommended in the German-American setting for lawyers who engage expert witnesses and for those taking on expert witness assignments on issues of law.

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