Abel Ecology's consulting team includes a range of experts who are capable of providing services in the NSW Land and Environment Court. Our expertise includes ecology and bushfire matters.
The Role in Court
The role of a consultant is to be impartial in court. Some lawyers and case managers ask for an expert to be an advocate for a client. However, that is contrary to both the code of conduct for the court and also codes of conduct for professional associations. The expert witness code of conduct explains the duty to the court as:
An expert witness has an overriding duty to assist the Court impartially on matters relevant to the expert's area of expertise.
An expert witness's paramount duty is to the Court and not to the person retaining the expert.
An expert witness is not an advocate for a party.
That role is easier when a scientist is engaged as a Court Appointed Expert and the fee is paid by both sides - applicant and respondent. The Court Appointed Expert may find, when reviewing the documentation, that there are such differences in the matters put before the court that independent investigation is required.
The cost of the expert witness can vary from an anticipated amount, if additional investigations are required and if new matters are raised in the proceedings.
The role of ecologist in many proceedings is to understand a wide range of interacting issues, including management of bushfire asset protection zones, impact on groundwater, changes in tree canopy in relation to fauna roost sites, home range and connectivity, plant-pollinator interactions and many more. In that context it is important for the ecologist to understand urban design, and engineering and planning matters, as they affect the environmental context of a development.