Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

What Is an Expert Witness Retention Contract?


Retaining an expert witness for a case is not as simple as hiring him or her for the testing of evidence or presentation of evidence in the courtroom, and the proposition requires a contract for services. Many items contained in the contract have provisions for payment, services rendered and how the expert may or may not work with the claim or case.

The retention contract is one that retains the services of an expert witness for a claim in civil court or a case in criminal court. The lawyer will need to draft the contract and include many different provisions that the expert agrees to and signs voluntarily. Each document may only apply to that specific professional for the particular case or claim and only the single instance. Most retention contracts specify terms that must change for new cases and subject matter. The laws of the jurisdiction that involve the expert witness often change significantly with each new defendant.

Contents of a Retention Contract

While many contracts to retain the services of an expert witness may have additional or different provisions, many have specific ones for every claim or case. These often include the fees for the expert witness. This is how much he or she will receive in payment, and this is rarely ever the same for any two courtroom settings. Consultant agreements may explain services or fees for consultation. Investigation fees, laboratory testing and additional expenses are often covered in a provision separately. Travel, lodging, car rental and similar fees are part of the other retention details. The contract may also specify what type of
services the expert will provide.

Setting Different Fees for the Expert

It is often the expert witness that sets the fees within the retention contract. Some receive payment through incremental hours of work while others have a straight hourly pay basis. Some will charge for half days and other for a full day of time on paperwork, for depositions or if needed in the courtroom for trial. When the expert must travel to a remote location, he or she may charge a per diem fee. Travel expenses, lodging and car rental are often stipulations in the contract provisions for payment. Some receive additional pay for long-distance traveling for testing or presentation of testimony and test results.

Billing for Expenses

Some experts receive pay for all manner of expenses. If the professional must purchase certain items or pay for testing labs, he or she may receive compensation through the retention contract payment specific provision with billing. The billing may also encompass photocopying, rental of equipment, staying in a hotel for a short or long period when another accommodation is not available or when consulting no a certain matter. The expert may also need to create a report for a criminal or civil claim or case with all information present about the case. This specific report may bill the legal team individually or attached to testing of evidence.

Services Rendered

The retention contract often has separate terms and conditions that explain what services are necessary for the claim or payment for different types of services. Not every case or claim will require the testing of evidence. Similarly, not every courtroom setting demands that the expert provide testimony about the specific subject matter. The lawyer may need the expert to explain why the injury leads to compensation and how much is reasonable. While another legal professional needs the expert to refute evidence or a process the opposing legal counsel presents to the courtroom. The type of service is usually part of the outlined agreement with payment.

The terms of engagement may place the expert on retainer for possible use in the future. In these situations, the expert may receive monetary payment each month or week based on the length of time he or she will need to wait until presenting something in the courtroom. Other experts become consultants on the subject matter, so the lawyer understands the information within the case more clearly. This could give the legal professional an advantage in particularly confusing cases.

Retention Contract Expert Details

The expert and lawyer will usually communicate personally to complete the retention contract. Both parties will need to negotiate terms and sign the contract, so they are both bound to the conditions until the case is over. The lawyer may specify how and when the expert receives payment, but some matter such as lodging and travel are often upfront payment.


Provided by HG.org

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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