The veterinary pathologist as an expert witness

The veterinary pathologist as an expert witness
Peer reviewed


The acts or omissions of all veterinarians acting in their professional capacity may be subject to legal scrutiny months, or even years, after the event. Accordingly, veterinarians are advised to conduct each examination thoroughly and fully record all associated details. Veterinarians may be called on by the court to account for their own acts or omissions, or involved in court procedure as an expert witness. Non-expert witnesses are only permitted to give evidence about facts they observed and not their opinions about these facts, however an expert witness may be called on specifically to provide their opinion to assist the court in its understanding and deliberations on certain matters. The law has specific rules about the role of an expert witness. The veterinarian is advised to engage a lawyer in preparing a statement for the court. On occasion such statements will satisfy the defence counsel and negate the necessity for the veterinarian to attend court proceedings in person. However, if court appearance is required, then it is of significant benefit to the veterinarian, and the case being heard, if the veterinarian has a knowledge of what is required to be a credible, objective and reliable expert.

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