We read the background to the Scottish case of Eastern Motor Company Limited v Grassick & Ors with interest.
In this case, the Scottish Court of Session validly intervened and altered the previous decision by an expert. This is important as the expert had been appointed to resolve the dispute and the decision had been made final and the parties had agreed to be bound by it.
The contract into which the parties entered provided that the outcome of an expert would be binding but for cases of manifest error or fraud.
This provided little (if no) room for the court to challenge a decision by the expert.
It has been previously found that parties that opt to agree to this term are respected by the law. As found by Hoffman LJ in Mercury Communications Ltd v Director General of Telecommunications  1 WLR 48, a final expert decision can only be challenged if the expert has not complied with the instructions of the parties.
In this case, Hoffman LJ said:
“So, in questions in which the parties have entrusted the power of decision to a valuer or other decision-maker, the courts will not interfere either before or after the decision. This is because the court’s views about the right answer to the question are irrelevant. On the other hand, the court will intervene if the decision-maker has gone outside the limits of his decision-making authority.”
So why the difference in this case?..
In this case, the question was raised as to whether the expert had stepped outside the boundaries of his assignment or not clearly understood the scope of his role.
The answer was found to be that the expert was perfectly clear on what they had been asked to decide and the questions presented in that regard.
It therefore, leaves the question as to why the court felt they had jurisdiction to interfere with the expert’s conclusion…
We await future cases that will allow this question to be answered.
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