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Recent Family Law Judgment: Unsuccessful application to discharge single expert witness

In Bass and Bass (2008) FLC 93-366 the father appealed against orders which in effect refused his application to discharge the single expert witness who the father and mother had earlier agreed should prepare a report in parenting proceedings concerning the living arrangements for their child, and who had already prepared such a report. The basis of the father's application was an asserted bias against him in the report of the single expert witness.

In the course of their judgment, the members of the Full Court concluded that, apart from the rules in Div 15.5.6 which provide a procedure for clarifying a report prepared by a single expert witness, the remaining rules in Pt 15.5 had no apparent relevance to the issues before them. Their Honour's considered the procedure for clarifying matters contained in the report prepared by the single expert witness had not been employed and the assertion of bias would best be able to be established through cross-examination of the expert at the trial of the parenting proceedings. Their Honour's asserted that following such cross-examination, all or parts of the expert's report could be rejected or given only limited weight by the trial judge and it would remain open to the ultimate trial judge to adjourn the trial for the purpose of obtaining another expert report if he or she considered that the matter could not be satisfactorily determined without such assistance.

Leave to appeal was refused and the applications of the father dismissed. The father was ordered to pay the costs of the mother and of the independent children's lawyer.

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