Lawyer Monthly - April 2022

professionals are not familiar with the technical aspects. Acronyms and jargon are a particular problem! I have seen a number of aviation expert reports over the years. Too often they consist of dense blocks of unstructured and poorly formatted text, with unexplained aviation technical terms and no clear conclusions. Unsupported subjective personal opinion is presented, without any attempt to back this up with proper references. Aviation is a welldocumented industrywith comprehensive regulations, authoritative guidance, and helpful advice published by official bodies – therefore there is no excuse for a lack of proper references. All of Axten’s reports are kept in-house initially and go through our internal quality process. Opinion remains exclusively that of the expert, but reports are checked over for ‘clarity, completeness and consistency’. Reports then return to the expert with comments. Additions and adjustments can then be made by the expert before formatting to a standard layout and passing to the instructing solicitors. Reports from Axten contain all the required Civil Procedures Rules (CPR) elements, clear conclusions, a glossary of acronyms, and explanations of key technical terms. The readers of this article may be unfamiliar with aviation terms such as ‘stalling’, ‘autorotation’, ‘g-force’ and similar. Such terms are always explained within Axten’s reports for the convenience of non-aviation readers. Including yourself, there are only two aviation witnesses certified by the ExpertWitness Institute. Why are there so few expert witnesses in this field? My first expert witness training course was at the EWI in 2013 and I have completed a number of courses since then with the EWI, Bond Solon and Quadrant Chambers. In 2017 I was examined under their Certification Programme and subsequently received my Certificate from the EWI’s Chair Sir Martin Spencer, Justice of the High Court. There are a number of aviation expert witnesses in the UK, but many have received little or no formal training as expert witnesses and are not members of the EWI or other expert witness bodies. 87 APR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM EXPERT WITNESS Over the years I have been instructed on behalf of both claimants and defendants, and it goes without saying that an expert witness’s duty is to the court and not to those who instruct us. We have a duty to be independent and impartial. It is not the role of an expert witness to be a ‘hired gun’ or an advocate. It is not a requirement to undergo expert witness training, but I feel strongly that it is essential in developing one’s understanding of the expert witness’s duties and obligations. All of Axten’s experts undergo training and are also mentored as they progress through their early cases. What developments have youwitnessed in the field of aviation during your time as a pilot and an expert witness? Aviation has developed dramatically over my nearly fifty years of flying. The principles remain the same, as the laws of physics have not changed, but computers have taken a major role in preflight planning and in the cockpit itself. Out of interest, the cockpit is now officially termed, by European regulation, the FCC – Flight Crew Compartment! The four-man crews of the 70s have been replaced by the two-person crews of today, assisted by a host of computers. However, it is disappointing that the male dominance of the flight deck remains, Aviation is a complex field, and many legal professionals are not familiar with the technical aspects. Acronyms and jargon are a particular problem!

RkJQdWJsaXNoZXIy Mjk3Mzkz