Disclosure of reports and statements

The use of medical reports and the reports of other expert witnesses in personal injury and other actions (instituted prior to the 1st September 1997).

1. In actions in which damages for personal injuries are claimed counsel should consider whether the attendance at the trial of medical witnesses who have provided medical report is necessary to explain or supplement such reports. If it is considered that attendance is not necessary a request should be made to the opposing side to admit in evidence the contents of such reports without the necessity of adducing oral testimony. Should the request be acceded to then copies of all admitted reports should be made available for the court.

2. When a medical witness is called to give evidence counsel in his/her absolute discretion should decide whether or not to make available for the use of the court copies of any medical reports furnished by the witness. Counsel should not be required to give reasons should the reports not be made available. Should counsel decide to make them available they should first be shown to the opposing party. If not objection is taken then counsel should indicate to the ourt whether (a) the report is to be treated as part of the testimony of the witness (in which event the witness should be asked to explain or supplement the report) or (b) whether it is offered merely for the convenience of the court and as an aide-memoire.

3. The above procedures should apply mutatis mutandis in the case of reports obtained from other expert witnesses, for example engineers, architects, actuaries, accountants, welfare consultants (and to photographs and maps annexed to such reports) in personal injury actions and other types of actions.

4. The parties may, by agreement, exchange before the trial their reports on a reciprocal basis, but the absence of agreement to do so should not in itself be a ground for refusing to co-operate at the trial in the procedures outlined above.

5. This direction replaces the practice direction published in the Legal Diary on 11th and 27th January 1993.

Dated the 8th day of September 1993

Personal injury actions disclosure of reports and statements.

The attention of practitioners is drawn to S.I. No. 391 of 1998 Rules of the Superior Courts (No. 6) (Disclosure of Reports and Statements), 1998 which provides for an addition to Order 39 of new rules 45 to 51 in relation to the disclosure of reports and statements pursuant to section 45 of the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995. These rules apply to all existing proceedings which were instituted on or after the 1st September 1997.

High court