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Conventional Wisdom

Judge Charleton has criticized the adducing of evidence by (of) “too many experts” in a defective products case.

The report of the judge’s comments indicates that judge assumes that his view is correct, or more accurately, is conventional.

The judge’s view is in fact radical.

In Ireland, the decisions relating to the adducing of evidence in a civil action lie with each of the parties. This is a consequence of the fact that a civil trial in Ireland is a contest; it is not an inquiry.

Consequently, Judge Charleton’s comment is a challenge to that idea, not whether a counsel in one civil action erred on the side of caution and proved (or failed to prove) a matter using a surfeit of expert evidence.

We know this, because there is a time-worn method available to deal with erring counsel; deny his/her client the costs of the excess of evidence, assuming he/she represented the successful party. A judge who shifts a “costs criticism” into the heart of his judgment is either making a category error or is making a policy statement.

Should Ireland commission managed inquires, in civil matters, by the High Court? Should the judge decide what evidence will decide the outcome of such inquiries?

We don’t know. The reason we don’t know is that it has not been considered. The question is not one of fact; it is an issue to be decided by Irish society. Irish society has decided the issue already and that is reflected in the status quo. The status quo is this; a civil trial in Ireland is a contest and counsel for the parties will and does decide what and how much evidence should be adduced in a trial.