Faculty of Law

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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Postgraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Law
OfferedNot offered in 2011


This unit addresses the role of expert witnesses, their reports and their testimony in criminal, civil and family law litigation. The focus of the unit is on the accountability of expert opinions and the effectiveness of the examination. It will scrutinise the common law and legislative exclusionary rules of expert evidence and the rules of procedure that relate to the admissibility of expert evidence. It will address issues of 'property in witnesses', bias, court rules, confidentiality, privilege, ethics, payment and selection of forensic experts. In addition, the unit will explore the role and impact of expert evidence in a range of different forms of litigation.


At the conclusion of this unit, students should have gained:

  1. an understanding of the role of expert evidence in litigation
  2. an appreciation of exclusionary rules of expert evidence and relevant court rules
  3. a capacity to contextualise Australian law within international developments
  4. an awareness of contemporary issues relating to the use of expert witnesses in the criminal, personal injury, commercial and family law areas of litigation
  5. an understanding of the dilemmas posed by expert evidence within the evolving litigation framework
  6. an appreciation of the dynamics within which opinions are evaluated by courts and tribunals
  7. an understanding of issues of confidentiality, partisanship, property in experts, codes of ethics in relation to expert witnesses
  8. an understanding of particular issues in relation to medical, mental health, accounting, valuation and scientific evidence.


Take home exam (3,750 words): 50%
Research assignment (3,000 words): 40%
Class participation: 10%
Assignment (7,500 words): 100%

Contact hours

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)