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Expert Evidence

Interesting Cases



    • the [expert evidence] was not admissible to … [as it] was not “wholly or substantially based on” “specialised knowledge based on [the experts] training, study or experience”.
    • As a general rule, trial judges confronted with an objection to admissibility of evidence should rule upon that objection as soon as possible.
    • Often the ruling can and should be given immediately after the objection has been made and argued.
    • If, for some pressing reason, that cannot be done, the ruling should ordinarily be given before the party who tenders the disputed evidence closes its case.
    • That party will then know whether it must try to mend its hand, and opposite parties will know the evidence they must answer.
    • Under the rules of evidence the primary judge was permitted to take account of matters not proved in evidence in this case only if they were matters of which judicial notice could be taken.
    • It was not suggested that the causes of silicosis were matters for judicial notice.
    • Please note that this case relates to specific requirements of the Dust Diseases Tribunal Act 1989 but is nonetheless interesting.



    • While it may readily be accepted that a party is ordinarily entitled to discovery and inspection of all discoverable documents in the possession or control of the opposite party (save those for which a valid claim for privilege from production is claimed) it is important to bear steadily in mind that discovery is but a tool to be used in the pursuit of justice and that the right to discovery and inspection is not without its limits. The first and most obvious limit is that a party does not have a right to inspect documents that are discovered if there is a valid claim to privilege from production (as eg on the grounds of legal professional privilege). Secondly, because the law recognises that the assertion of compulsive power requiring production must be balanced against the needs of justice, a party inspecting the documents of the opposite party may not use them except for the purposes of the action in which discovery is made.
    • Where it is said that the documents are confidential, it may be accepted that the fact that the documents are confidential will not ordinarily be a sufficient reason to deny inspection by the opposite party. In most cases, the fact that the documents may not be used except for the purposes of the litigation concerned will be sufficient protection to the party producing them. But where, as here, the party obtaining discovery is a trade rival of the person whose secrets it is proposed should be revealed by discovery and inspection, other considerations arise.
    • Once the documents are inspected by the principals of the trade rival the information which is revealed is known to the trade rival and cannot be forgotten. Confidentiality is destroyed once and for all (at least so far as the particular trade rival is concerned). To say that the trade rival is bound not to use the documents except for the purposes of the action concerned is, in a case such as this, to impose upon that trade rival an obligation that is impossible of performance by him and impossible of enforcement by the party whose secrets have been revealed. How is the trade rival to forget what internal rate of return the competitor seeks to achieve on a new investment of the kind in question? How is the party whose hurdle rate has been revealed to know whether the rival has used the information in framing a tender? Thus, if the trade rival may inspect the documents concerned, the confidentiality of the information in them is at once destroyed. Is that necessary for the attainment of justice in the particular case?

Interesting Arbitral Rules


1) [2012] VSC 99
2) [2011] HCA 21
3) [2008] VSC 76
4) [1996] VicRp 54; [1996] 2 VR 34

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