Let's read the expert reports

For 2 and a half years, experts have been governed by a new law - Act No. 254/2019 Coll. on Experts, Expert Offices and Expert Institutes. The law is supposed to help to improve the quality of expert opinions. The main tool is the way of preparing the opinion. The report has a new detailed structure, which is essentially intended to be a record of the expert's procedure.

The detailed structure is an essential tool for the reviewability of the report. The goal is reviewability by the learned layperson because the factual accuracy (truthfulness) of the opinion is important. If the opinion is not reviewable, we cannot know whether it is true. We can only believe in it, which is insufficient for the truth of the opinion. Therefore, together with truthfulness and completeness, reviewability is also one of the three essential characteristics of an opinion. I refer those interested in the detailed structure of the opinion to Section 28, Act No. 254/2019 Coll. and to Section 39 et seq. of Decree No. 502/2020 Coll.

Decree No. 502/2020 Coll. in § 40 imposes, among other things, obligations on the commissioners of expert reports. The contracting authority must ask a question of expertise. That is, not a trivial question (a simple question that anyone can answer) and not a legal question. With a legal question, the contracting authority should turn to law firms. The sponsor must tell the expert for what purpose the expert report is to be used. Finally, the facts disclosed by the contracting authority which, in its opinion, may affect the accuracy of the expert's conclusion.

Truthfulness as a characteristic of an expert report is automatically presumed. The expert, through his expertise and erudition, is supposed to answer questions for the layman (the judge) that will help the judge to decide the dispute. In order for the dispute to be decided correctly (fairly), the expert must answer the court's questions truthfully. Further, the court will also decide fairly based on the answers. Perhaps the above construction seems naive to the reader, but this is how expert witnessing should work.

A special category is the last of the three characteristics and that is "completeness". The expert should illuminate the issue completely. This means that his interpretation should not be one-sided.

Another issue is the accuracy of the conclusions. Technical sciences may be mathematically precise, but economic sciences are not. The expert, as a valuer, projects his opinions and ideas into the valuation. For example, by means of coefficients in the comparative method. Appraisal methodology also takes this into account. The valuer should say what the variance of his valuation is, or in what range the valuation is.    

Readers of appraisals should also pay attention to the appendices of the appraisal, as appendices help with reviewability. These appendices help the reader determine whether the data from which the appraiser derives his or her answers are credible.

Money always comes first. Recently, experts have had their fees significantly increased when the commissioning party is the courts or the police. The hourly rate is now up to CZK 1,000. This means that in litigation, expert reports will cost considerably more. If there are any discrepancies in the reports, the experts will always provide an explanation.