Mark Tomkins (MIPENZ, CPEng. IntPE), head of Strategic Consulting at Ergo, was called as an expert witness to the Havelock North Water Inquiry, which made national news in 2017.
He presented evidence relating to the water pumping station telemetry and control systems. Mark has previously undertaken forensic work for insurance companies as an expert witness; and his recent experience in Hawkes Bay again reinforced the important points about taking on such a role.
Invariably employed by one of the parties involved, the role of an expert witness is to remain impartial. It is also vital to not step outside the designated area of expertise.
The High Court Rules (2016) in the code of conduct for expert witnesses state that “An expert witness has an overriding duty to assist the court impartially on relevant matters within the expert’s area of expertise.
An expert witness is not an advocate for the party who engages the witness”. The Engineering NZ competencies for CPEng of Ethical Conduct and Judgement are also put to the test.
More often than not, CPEng is seen as a pre-requisite to acting as an expert witness.