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Consult reports inadmissible as expert evidence

The admissibility into evidence of the written reports of experts is an exception to the usual rule that witnesses be examined and cross-examined in open court. The Rules contain certain requirements that need to be met before expert opinion evidence is admitted. Healey v. Chung 2015 BCCA 38, is a good example of those safeguards in operation.

The plaintiff appealed an award for damages for injuries sustained from a motor vehicle accident. At trial, the court admitted as expert opinion evidence consult reports found in the clinical records of the family physicians. However, the consult reports did not comply with the requirements for expert reports set out in the Rules. The consult reports lacked in many areas, but importantly, they did not contain the information that was essential to the qualification of the doctors as experts or the information reviewed by the doctors in arriving at their opinion. The Court of Appeal held that the trial judge erred in admitting the consult reports as expert evidence. This finding, in combination with other evidentiary issues, led the Court of Appeal to direct a new trial.

Case law update by: Chelsea Lott