Help to get the expert you need for your dental negligence claim

Selecting the right expert, first time, is important, not only for reasons of cost and time, but it may well save having to “back-track” later.  As a barrister with experience as a general dentist, specialist dentist and expert witness myself, I can help.

In addition to general dental practice, there are a number of dental specialties registered by the General Dental Council. Some, but not all, registered specialists also have sufficient experience of general dental practice to enable them to provide expert evidence of both.

All registered dentists are entitled to style themselves “dentist”, “dental surgeon” or “dental practitioner”, and all are entitled to call themselves “Doctor”, as long as they ensure that the title is not used in a way which could mislead the public, for example by giving the impression that the dentist is a registered medical practitioner if they are not.

However, simply being expert at what they do doesn’t mean that a dentist will be the expert witness you need. Since it is very unusual indeed for a dental expert witness to actually have to give evidence in court in a clinical negligence or personal injury claim, many have never done so. An expert may have had extensive experience of providing reports for Low Value RTA claims but a clinical negligence claim is a different ball-game.   For a start, there is likely to be another expert opinion to contend with. Those experts who have had experience of providing expert evidence in regulatory matters are more likely to have had direct experience of cross examination, and with that often comes a revised and appropriately measured approach to expert witness work.

I have seen expert reports which could well leave that expert vulnerable to criticism of lack of independence, stepping outside their area of expertise and simply failing to comply with CPR 35 and the Practice Direction. I have even seen this when the report writer has undertaken training in report-writing.

As a dental barrister, I can help you identify the appropriate dental sub-specialty and assess the quality of an expert report at a draft stage, assisting with management of client expectations in the longer term.

Contact Heather Beckett

Instructing solicitors are warmly invited to contact Heather at Goldsmith Chambers:

Phone:  0207 353 6802