Consulting forensic engineers provide expertise in court proceedings, through acting as independent and impartial witnesses at court. The main way in which this expertise is presented to the court is through undertaking investigations and preparing and presenting reports.
As expert witnesses, consulting forensic engineers are servants of the court, and are obliged to conduct their investigations and prepare their reports in an appropriate professional manner. The overriding duty of an expert witness is to assist the court in its deliberations.
In High Court personal injury actions, there are court rules which require the exchange of expert reports prior to the hearing of the case. The rules lay down specific provisions as to the content of an expert witness report.
In order to assist members in implementing these rules, in January 2000 the association published the ACFE Guidelines for Court Reports and for Inspections.
As expert witnesses, consulting forensic engineers are covered by the provisions of the 2004 Civil Liability and Courts Act, in particular Section 25. Under this section there are severe criminal sanctions for parties convicted of attempting to mislead the courts, either directly or by giving information which they know to be untrue, to an expert witness.