Netherlands, The expert’s mission: the importance of open questions:

Asking a question is not an innocent thing to do

by Raimond Giard*

How should a lawyer phrase the expert’s mission ? This has long been a topic of research and discussion. And until now, there have been no satisfying answers. In many cases, the expert is meant to explain how a certain event may have happened – an analysis. Meanwhile, the legal intervention’s purpose is to assess whether or not a party or a suspect can be held responsible – a value judgement. The difference we are suggestion hints at the answer : there is a judicial goal and a de fact issue. If they are clearly distinct from one another, if the issue is phrased correctly and answered in a satisfying manner, it should be possible to get closer to the ideal image of the expert’s report, truly trustworthy and judicially useful.

*Pr Dr. Dr. R.W.M. Giard is a methodology and liability professor at the Erasmus School of Law, civil law department, Erasmus Universiteit of Rotterdam. He is also the editor of this journal. Many thanks to Siewert Lindenbergh and Willem van Boom for their critical comments on previous versions of this article.

The original Dutch version of this article was published in the journal Expertise en Recht, Eer 2013, vol 2.