Expert reports can be used for a number of purposes.
The specialist knowledge of an expert (unfortunately not a legally protected occupational title in Germany) is used to investigate a specific type of damage, for example engine damage, damage to premises etc., to determine whether the damage is due to faulty manufacturing, incorrect operation or handling. A forensic expert report is required as part of legal proceedings (civil litigation, criminal law – proof of guilt).
A forensic export report also provides the necessary background information to the judge, prosecutor or lawyer (none of whom may have in-depth knowledge of the relevant subject matter), to enable them to reach a court ruling.
As many a court ruling and legal proceeding leans heavily upon expert reports regarding financial recompense or the conviction or acquittal of the accused, it follows that the expert bears considerable responsibility in the legal process. This requires not only the greatest possible care when compiling expert reports, but also the ability to make use of the latest standards of knowledge and technology. Therefore, the legislator has decided that, for legal proceedings, officially appointed and sworn or certified experts must be used (§ 73/2, StPO, § 404/2 ZPO).
Göth GmbH Forensic Testing Laboratory employs officially appointed and sworn experts who, among other tasks, prepare expert reports for use in court. We have at our disposal the most up-to-date technical equipment, for example high definition digital cameras with corresponding image processing programs and image development equipment, stereo-zoom microscopes and a scanning electron microscope. In addition, we employ advance-training measures, which far exceed required standards.
These measures, amongst others, enable Göth GmbH Forensic Testing Laboratories to use a management manual for the compilation of expert reports.
These expert reports are therefore certified under DIN EN ISO 9001:2000.
This is the basis for the highest possible degree of transparency and quality.
Requirements of an Expert Report
Under existing rules, expert reports are required to have certain content. This includes the identity of the expert who authored the report. This is especially necessary for large, expert organisations, to trace a report’s origin. This also applies to expert reports issued by the authorities, although the legislator has ruled that in such a case, the report must be read out in court.
All information the expert received or came upon prior to his assessment of the incident is used as factual starting points. In our expert reports, these are listed under “Object of investigation and reason for investigation”.
The “investigation request” must be clearly stated in the expert report. In the case of expert court testimony, the directions for evidence must be recorded verbatim and considered when the report is compiled. The report must contain a list of all “examination methods, resources, sources and reference material” available to the expert and used in the preparation of his report. This should be compiled very thoroughly.
A clear and comprehensible description must be given of premises, motor vehicles and items, to illustrate to the reader where the expert carried out the investigations. This should not contain any value judgements but should be an objective description of condition and inventory. “Statements” must include where, when and in what capacity the expert performed his assessment. Next, the expert, using his specialist knowledge, presents the findings on which the conclusion of his report is based – the descriptions need to be as detailed as possible. The expert should always remember that his report must be such that another expert can assess it. Again, it is important that only facts should be described here. Value judgements are not appropriate.
The “investigation result” contains the expert conclusions drawn from the assessments made. Again, these must be comprehensible to the reader and should be as detailed as possible to adequately convey the expert’s opinion. There should be a “summary” or “brief description of the findings” so that one can obtain a quick overview.
Finally, the report must be signed and stamped by the expert. Round stamps may only be used by officially appointed and sworn experts. The expert does not need to include a form of oath, in keeping with current requirements.