Are you attempting to file that doctor’s note/letter, psychologists report or counselling report in a family court which purports to provide an opinion concerning an issue in a dispute such as custody, access, or support issues? While it may sound simple, providing Expert Evidence requires a couple of steps, and each one is pretty challenging.
How to Provide Expert Evidence in Family Court?
We’ve seen this issue come before the Court frequently and does not always become an evidentiary issue if the opposing party does not make the appropriate objection. This issue was the central focus within a recent case before the Superior Court of Justice, Family Court. In the case of Ene v. Ene (2015 ONSC 867) (S.C.J) the court set out the required steps for a party to seek to introduce this type of expert opinion evidence which should work to avoid admissibility arguments at a motion or a trial.
Generally, a couple of steps need to be followed:
For starters the writer of the report needs to know that their report will be introduced as evidence in the court.
The writer of the report also known as expert, in this case, needs to acknowledge in writing their duty and their compliance with the rule. It will require that they (the expert) provide their expert qualifications and why the expert has been retained for this case or proceeding. But these are just a few out of the many other requirements with the “Rule.”
The “Rule” should and could exclude all the simple letters or reports which the Court hasn’t come across on a daily basis and which fail to comply with Rule 20.01.
The litigant only need raise the issue if it weren’t first spotted by the Court, which is something that happened in the above-mentioned case “Ene v. Ene.”
In conclusion any litigant who hopes to file a quick report prepared by a professional as expert evidence and wants to catch the eye of the court so that the decision can be swayed in their favor should be aware of the requirements stated in Rule 20.1 of the Family Law Rules. Doing so (following Rule 20.1) will help to avoid any situation where the evidence is expunged from the record before the motion or trial being heard.