Are Single Joint Experts the new trend?


Recent Views of the Court
In a decision given on 2 November 2017, The Honourable Mr Justice Anthony Chan has provided his reasoning for circumstances in which the appointment of a single joint expert (“SJE”) is preferable to separate experts (“SE”), particularly analyses of voluminous amount of accounting documents are of necessity. The full Judgement can be downloaded here.

Hon Anthony Chan J stated:-

(The instruction of a SJE is) to provide for just resolution of disputes expeditiously and with costs-effectiveness…… Experience shows that having a SJE would serve to narrow down the issues. It avoids the nuts and bolts disputes between (SEs), which are surprising and seen far too often…… (The appointment of a SJE) can enhance the quality of the expert evidence, reduce the costs of litigation, improve the speed at which actions can be resolved and is helpful to the fair distribution of the court’s resources.

His Honour has also added a note, stating that “(t)he use of SJE is the growing trend, and in (his) respective view, it should be recognised as the mainstream in modern litigation.”

In our experience, an SJE can be more efficient and cost effective than separate party appointed experts, however this will be dependent upon the circumstances of each and every dispute. One of our recent appointments highlights the effectiveness of an SJE:-

  • We were instructed to determine the value of a business at two historical dates (i.e. commencement of marriage of H and W and filing of petition for divorce, respectively) and to determine whether the latter value was a result of ‘active’ or ‘passive’ growth (defined as with or without the involvement of H).
  • In this instance, the parties were able to provide us with the following documents on a timely basis:-
    a. Both parties’ respective Form Es and their answers to questionnaires;
    b. Prospectus for the initial public offering of the Company;
    c. Audited financial statements of the Company for a 7 year period;
    d. News and research reports issued by trade associations and consultancy firms;
    e. Financial information of companies of the same genre that were listed as A-shares on the stock exchanges of China.
  • Following extensive research and analysis, we completed our report and provided it to the parties well in advance of the pending trial dates. Shortly after we furnished our SJE report, we learnt that the parties settled on their disputes outside the courtroom, avoiding further litigation costs to be incurred.

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