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MDTF Activities > Impacts of expert witness engagement on court proceedings – issues and recommendations for improvement

Impacts of expert witness engagement on court proceedings – issues and recommendations for improvement

Analysis conducted by the MDTF-JSS team on the role of expert witnesses in judicial system of the Republic of Serbia has shown that, in the practice, there is a serious shortage of high quality expertise needed for trials. Experienced expert witnesses are frequently used by the courts and overburdened with work. At any given moment each such expert has 50 or more engagements. Consequently, delays are inevitable. In addition to expert witnesses’ breaches of deadlines, the main reason for trial adjournments is poor trial management. Requests for additional time to review expert witness opinion submitted by parties are common and prolong trial duration.

Findings of the analysis are systematized and presented in the report Examining the Experts: The Role of Expert Witnesses in Serbia, and How Reform Could Improve Efficiency and Quality of Justice. The Report is also available in Serbian. Main findings and recommendations are presented in infographics on accountability of expert witness, quality of their work and efficiency.

Development of findings was based on a desk research and analysis of implementation of legislation in practice which included review of cases in basic and commercial courts in Belgrade (First Basic Court), Niš, Subotica and Užice. The purpose of the analysis was to identify the key issues related to engagement of expert witnesses in distinct types of court proceedings. The participation of expert witnesses in court proceedings has shown to significantly impact the efficiency of justice, so the report provides recommendations on how to improve expert witness appointment, selection and engagement in trials.

The MDTF-JSS team has already presented the analysis’ findings to the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Ministry of Justice. The findings and recommendations on how to improve expert witness work will also be presented to a wider community of professionals later this year.