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Using medical opinion drawn up in another proceedings


In civil proceedings, expert evidence, including evidence by medical expert, is an important means of evidence which, in principle, is examined where specialist knowledge is requisite and essential for resolution of the case.   

Expert evidence is used to assist the court when an issue identified in the case before it requires specialist knowledge in a given field of science or technology, medicine or art, and such knowledge goes beyond the knowledge and life experience of a person without specialist knowledge in that specific field. It is the court that decides whether specialist knowledge is necessary to form the judgement.

Situations where a party to the proceedings already has an expert opinion drawn up earlier for other proceedings and such opinion could be useful in a given case, are not rare. Then a question arises - should a new motion be filed for the appointment of an expert, or it will be sufficient to present an opinion which the party already has from another proceedings?

The case law established the view that a physician’s opinion drawn up for the purpose of another proceedings cannot be valued as evidence in another case to which it was submitted, e.g. for comparative purposes. It has been settled, both in the doctrine and the case law, that expert evidence cannot be replaced in a specific proceedings with an opinion from another proceedings, even if the conclusions arising from both opinions are the same (decision of the Supreme Court of 16 May 2017, I UK 207/16).

This means that if we use a physician's opinion (or a medical certificate) drawn up in another proceedings, it will not be ignored, but it will not be treated as an evidence equal to an expert evidence submitted in this particular proceedings. What is more, the evidence from an expert opinion submitted in another case is only a private document in a matter for which it was submitted "additionally" for comparative purposes, so it merely proves that the person who signed it made a statement contained in it which is not taken into account as an opinion evaluating the actual state of the case. Such evidence has no priority in the judicial examination and it is subject to assessment in accordance with the general rules provided for in Article 233 Civil Procedure Code, i.e. it can be admitted or dismissed or omitted by the Court and is assessed according to the same assessment criteria as other evidence in the given case.

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