Using Expert Witnesses in Legionella Cases

Using expert witnesses in Legionella casesIn this post we look at the use of expert witnesses in cases involving man-made water systems, Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires’ disease.

Expert witnesses aren’t used in all court cases, but they can be extremely useful in cases where an additional level of expert knowledge is required. In some instances, the evidence they give can help laypeople involved understand the facts of the case in far more detail than would otherwise be possible.

Legionnaires’ disease experts

In our previous post, we discussed the role of an expert witness in cases involving Legionnaires’ disease and highlighted the fact they will be knowledgeable in one or other related subjects. Their job may have brought them the knowledge required, they may have conducted extensive research in to the subject, or they may have had extensive training in the area. This may mean they have recognised qualifications that confirm their knowledge.

How might a legionella expert witness help in a case related to Legionnaires’ disease?

Few people know much about Legionnaires’ disease beyond information they may have read or heard about in the news. While expert witnesses aren’t often required in UK court cases – usually brought by the Health and Safety Executive, Local Authorities or the Crown Prosecution Service – there may be instances where an expert would be very useful.

For instance, someone with a greater understanding of legionella bacteria and how, where and the rate at which it can develop might be able to provide crucial information concerning a case. In the UK the Health & Safety Executive provides guidelines on how to maintain cooling towers, process water systems and other hot and cold water systems where Legionella bacteria may readily multiply. Getting further input from a legionella expert witness with relevant experience could help support a court case in this sense.

Tasks an expert witness may help with

Legionella bacteria, its growth and development and the techniques used to keep it under control can prove confusing to some. While many court cases are concluded without the need for such an expert witness, there are instances where the evidence can be better-assessed when one is available to provide expert input.

If the death of an individual from Legionnaires’ disease has occurred, an expert witness may be able to provide an expert’s view of how the Legionella bacteria was allowed to grow, whether the control measures in place were suitable – sufficient and in accordance with the law; and also comment on how the disease could have been prevented. Other examples might include evidence relating to the growth of legionella in certain situations or conditions. A lot will depend on the facts of the case and the amount of information and understanding required by those involved in the evaluation and final judgement. Such legionella expert witnesses are not always used and are not a common sight in court rooms – even though it might seem that way on television.

Expert support for legal professionals

Providing an expert witness is impartial and has the relevant knowledge and experience required for a case, they can offer significant support to legal professionals and those involved in the court process, particularly in cases that need expert support, clarification and additional knowledge.

Legionella Control International are world-leading specialists in the control and management of legionella and Legionnaires’ disease. Our senior consultants provide specialist expert witness and litigation support services in matters relating to Legionnaires' disease and the control and management of legionella risks. We act for a wide range of clients where prosecution or litigation is involved.

Our expert witness services encompass a range of technical, scientific, environmental and engineering subjects directly associated with Legionnaires’ disease and the control and management of legionella risks within the built environment.

Expert legionella risk management support

To find out more about our specialist legionella risk management services including litigation support, risk assessments, City & Guilds accredited training, water testing, and other risk management support services please contact us on 0161 877 0586 (Manchester) or 0203 637 47 48 (London).

London Office
Kemp House
152 City Road
London EC1V 2NX
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 203 637 47 48

Manchester Office
Unit B Badex Building
Westbrook Park
Manchester M17 1AY
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 161 877 0586

Further reading

For additional information about Legionella bacteria and Legionnaires' disease … here

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Unit B Badex Building
Westbrook Park
Manchester M17 1AY
United Kingdom

Manchester: +44 (0) 161 877 05 86
London: +44 (0) 203 637 47 48
Email: info@legionellacontrol.com

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