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MDTF Activities > Presentation of Findings – Impact of Expert Witness Engagement on Court Proceedings

Presentation of Findings – Impact of Expert Witness Engagement on Court Proceedings

The MTDF JSS team presented to the wider community of professionals main findings and recommendations of the recently prepared report “Examining the Experts: The Role of Expert Witnesses in Serbia, and How Reform Could Improve Efficiency and Quality of Justice” on September 18, 2018. The Conference brought together key stakeholders and served as a discussion platform for sharing invaluable views and experiences related to expert witness work in Serbia. Key findings were prepared in the form of infographic on quality of expert witness, responsibilities of expert witness and how to improve efficiency of trial to be shared with participants and media. Full report is also available in Serbian.

The Conference was opened by the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Mirko Cikiriz, who welcomed the initiative of the World Bank Group and the MDTF, and stressed that the Report will serve as a good starting point for future strategic reforms in this field and announced that the Ministry of Justice will work on amending the existing regulatory framework on expert witness. The World Bank Country Manager for Serbia, Mr. Stephen Ndegwa, emphasized the need for a growing confidence of citizens and investors in the judicial system, as well as the relevance of expert witness role in accomplishing this goal.  H.E. Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Serbia, Mr. Denis Keefe, noted that improving the role of expert witnesses is crucial on the path to sustainable strategic reforms. Mr. Ambassador pointed out that independence and professionalism of expert witnesses are the core values that need to be further strengthened and continuously reinforced. H.E. Ambassador of the Netherlands to Serbia, Mr. Henk van den Dool, recognized the importance of the expert witness role in the judicial system, claiming that the court decisions almost fully rely on good quality expert witness opinions. Accurate, valid and good quality court decisions, in turn, lead to an improved delivery of justice and creation of a level playing field for investors.

During the second discussion panel, the World Bank team comprising of Ms. Marina Matic Boskovic, Ms. Olga Sipka and Ms. Aleksandra Stecuk, presented to the audience the broader context of the project, methodology used in preparation of the Report, as well as its key findings and recommendations. The team discussed some of the most relevant recommendations developed in line with EU good practices, such as: (i) setting up training for expert witnesses, (ii) institutionalizing expert witness associates and other support staff in order to facilitate expert witness work, but also prepare new qualified cadre for the expert witness profession, (iii) improving training for judges in order to better manage expert witness work, as well as (iv) strengthening accountability of expert witnesses so as to incentivize them to conduct their work in a professional and responsible manner.
 
Following the presentation of the Report by the members of the World Bank team, judges and expert witnesses shared insights into their practical experience related to expert witnesses’ engagement and role in court proceedings. Ms. Aleksandra Lekovic, Judge of the First Basic Court in Belgrade, Mr. Marinko Marjanovic and Mr. Predrag Tasovac, renowned expert witnesses, presented their practical experiences related to the expert witness work, shared examples on key challenges faced in practice, and provided further advice on how to possibly improve the expert witness role in the judicial system of Serbia.
 
Both the panelists and the attendees of the Conference acknowledged the importance of the initiative taken by the MDTF and its donors to address the expert witness role in the judicial system, and expressed strong motivation and readiness to take part in future strategic reforms.