What is a Part 35 Expert Report?
To give it its full name, the Part 35 Compliant Expert Witness Report is a legal document and its purpose is to provide the opinion of an expert witness within an area of expertise in front of a court hearing.
A P35 Expert Report is a legal document which is produced in court. It includes all of the information about a particular case of Japanese Knotweed to determine who is liable and what action should be taken.
Why do I need a Part 35 Report?
Part 35 expert reports have been part of the Civil Procedure Rules since December 2014 and regulate the use of expert evidence in court. Expert witness reports must, therefore, meet strict criteria. This ensures that they are in line with the Part 35 rules and must all be in writing.
This is usually the case when Japanese Knotweed has crossed a boundary or has caused some liability for one of the parties. This would include a neighbouring property being devalued due to the Japanese knotweed being present on a neighbouring property.
This, therefore, might mean that to take your case to court, you need expert documents to prove liability.
Generally, Japanese Knotweed disputes are easily resolved once an individual takes responsibility for the presence of the weed and ensures that it is eradicated in line with the specific rules and regulations put in place.
However, in some circumstances where the origin of the Japanese Knotweed is harder to determine, or in situations where the landowner is denying liability, you may need to consult your solicitors on the best way to proceed down the legal route.
Why you should care?
Japanese Knotweed is classed as a ‘Schedule 9’ plant and in relation to this, Section 14(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 states that “if any person plants or otherwise cause to grow in the wild any plant which is included in Part 2 of Schedule 9, he shall be guilty of an offence”.
Due to this, in recent times we have seen instances where individuals have taken legal action against landowners who have allowed this highly invasive weed to encroach onto their sites. Several cases have been publicised in the media where liability has been established and a heavy fine has been passed.
How does it work?
Typically, your solicitors will firstly arrange for an initial vetting report which will give them the basic details of the Japanese Knotweed they will need to know before being able to decide as to whether or not the case can be taken to court. Once they have the initial vetting report, this is usually when solicitors will arrange for the P35 Report.
If the court instructs the parties involved in a case to obtain an expert witness report their report must always be up to date and impartial, (it is important to note that an expert has a duty to assist the court, as opposed to any party that has instructed them.)
The report must also contain a statement from the expert confirming their understanding of their duty to the court and confirmation that the report produced complies with all guidelines.
How do I obtain one?
There are also multiple options for obtaining a Part 35 Expert Witness Report for a dispute, including both parties using the same expert to produce one report. The benefit of this is that the cost of instructing the expert witness can be split between the two parties. Alternatively, if the parties cannot agree on one expert between them, then a separate expert may be instructed for each party.
Following the completion of the report, further questions can be submitted to the expert. However, again, these questions need to meet certain criteria to be used as court evidence, ensuring that they are of a proportionate length, asked only once and sent within 28 days of the report being distributed.
The questions can also only be written to clarify points from the original report unless permitted by the court.
Are P35 Reports important?
A Part 35 Compliant Expert Witness Report can be the key to winning or defending your case in court, so the simple answer is, Yes.
It will be the duty of the experts, to provide the court with the correct information required in their field of expertise. As such, the reports will contain all of the pertinent information the court will require when reaching a verdict.
The court will require a source for the reports which is completely informative and unbiased. If this is not the case, then the report will be declared void.
What is contained within a P35 Report?
Reports normally include but are not limited to:
- A site assessment
- Recommendations for treatment or removal
- Report basis
Part 35 Compliant Reports are specific documents that answer the questions solicitors will need to know and use in their court cases. Typically, these P35 reports are used to determine the cause of the origin of the Japanese Knotweed and therefore proportion liability to the correct person.
P35 Reports are usually taken around a week to compose due to the in-depth analysis required to fully investigate the situation at hand. If you are not proceeding down the legal route, you usually won’t require this service.
All P35 Expert Reports should be PCA compliant and in accordance with PD 35 and CPR 35 regulations. This will ensure that the most accurate, helpful and unbiased information is made available to the courts in determining who is liable.
If you have Japanese knotweed on your land and it might encroach onto your neighbour’s property, do not be complacent. Act now and save the headache and legal costs associated with this painful process.
Want to know more?
Knotweed Removal aims to provide the most up-to-date information, help and advice for YOU to make informed decisions. If you are unsure or uncertain about how to proceed, please reach out to us and we will gladly come back and advise you as best we can.
The best means to contact us is via our email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Do not forget we have a library of blogs covering many areas relevant to Japanese Knotweed, our free downloadable How-to Guides and Product Reviews on the latest methods being employed to eradicate or remove Japanese Knotweed.
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