It is a common feature of immigration cases that expert reports are prepared to support the version of events put forward by the Applicant or Appellant. These reports can be prepared for applications to the Home Office or for appeals to the Tribunal. Usually an expert will be instructed by a legal representative, or by the Applicant directly. An expert can be instructed to prepare a report covering a very wide number of topics from the health of the Applicant, the relationship of an applicant and others, or the country situation in the country the Applicant is to be returned to. Regardless of the topic to be covered, there are some rules relating to expert reports which all experts should be aware of.
Please note, that whilst many of these Rules relate to how the Tribunal treats expert reports, if you are preparing a report for the Home Office, you’d be well advised to follow the same Rules, albeit adjust the wording accordingly. If the Applicant’s application is refused, an expert would usually be instructed by the legal representative to update the report addressing the Home Office reason for refusal letter.
How to give expert immigration advice? Advice from UK immigration solicitors
In MOJ and Others (Return to Mogadishu) Somalia CG  UKUT 00442 (IAC) the Tribunal gives direction to immigration lawyers on the information they should give to experts and how they should provide that information. As an expert witness you should review this piece of caselaw as it may be that before you even start to prepare the report, there is more information that is necessary from the instructing lawyer.
In essence, the above case law requires immigration lawyers to provide experts with clear instructions on the questions that they should address, whilst not overburdening them. It also requires experts to list in their report the evidence that they have reviewed in preparing the expert report.
What must be included in reports on immigration cases?
The case of AAW (expert evidence – weight) Somalia  UKUT 673) states that a failure to comply with the Senior President’s Practice Direction may affect the weight to be given to expert evidence. Any opinion offered must be supported by a clear demonstration of objectivity. An expert should engage with the all the material facts or issues in the case. Avoiding inconvenient facts is likely to give the impression to the Tribunal that you are an informed advocate rather than an expert witness.
The presidential guidance note paragraph 10 is a key document which must be reviewed by any expert intending on preparing reports in immigration cases. This is available here. The Practice Direction gives a good overview of the information which must be contained in the expert report.
The crucial evidence that must be contained in an expert report includes; details of the expert’s qualifications; details of any materials or literature referred to in the report. Commonly foot notes are used by experts in compliance with this requirement. The expert, at the outset of the report should set out the facts and instructions which have formed the basis of opinions of the expert. The report should contact a summary of conclusions and give reasons and basis for opinions in the report.
The expert report must contact a ‘statement of truth’ as well as a statement of any qualification of opinion, and a statement that the expert understands the duty to the Tribunal. That duty is contained within practice direction paragraph 10.
It is crucial that an expert reviews all of this relevant evidence as whilst a respected expert can end up giving expert evidence in many or most important immigration cases on one relevant topic, an expert discredited in the Tribunal is unlikely to be asked to give expert evidence in the Tribunal again.