What is Expert Determination?

Keith Koons

Expert determination is an investigative process in which someone with extensive knowledge about a particular subject would render an opinion regarding a conflict. This concept can be found within many parts of judicial systems in regard to interpreting the law, and in many situations, the expert may be a judge or an arbitrator. In more complex cases that require precise knowledge that would not be commonly available, expert determination could relate to a witness that is held in high regard by his peers. Another form of expert determination could relate to scholars that could quickly identify and interpret information to provide counsel in a matter, regardless of whether it pertains to law.

A doctor may be tapped to make an expert determination in a medical malpractice case.
A doctor may be tapped to make an expert determination in a medical malpractice case.

The most common form of expert determination occurs within a mediation process between two parties. Both sides may feel they have legal reason to pursue a certain course of action, and to avoid a trial by jury, they may agree to an arbitration process that would provide dispute resolution. This legal authority would hear testimony from both parties and then make a ruling for one side or the other. Arbitration involving an expert determination is often sought from corporations because it offers a cost-effective way to settle disputes quickly.

Other forms of expert determination would refer to a witness that is paid to share testimony in a trial. For this testimony to be valid, the judicial system would have to recognize this speaker as an authority within the particular field of question. For example, a doctor may be called for expert determination in a medical case involving malpractice, and his testimony would be designed to prove that the other party's claim is invalid. Although this individual is normally held in high regard, it would ultimately be up to the jury to decide how valid this expert determination is in regards to the case before them.

There are also plenty of examples of expert determination outside the legal system as well. Almost every form of industry has leaders that are considered at the top of the field in terms of overall knowledge, and they are often called on to help determine solutions. A contractor may contact the world's leading bridge builder, for example, for consultation on a complex repair project that could be completed several different ways. Doctors may seek an expert on a unique case that does not appear in any medical journals. Any situation that requires an authority to make an educated decision qualifies as expert determination, and on a global scale, it happens hundreds of times per day.

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