n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The paradoxes and dilemmas of expertise in the criminal justice process

Volume 13, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



"If matters arise in our law which concern other sciences or faculties, we commonly apply for the aid of that science or faculty which it concerns, which is an honourable and commendable thing in our law". (Buckley v Rice Thomas (1554) 1 Plowd 118 at 124)

Thus reads the earliest authorative judicial dictum found in English law on the need for expert assistance. The term "expert" used as an adjective can be defined in the following terms: "skilful, skilled, trained, knowledgeable, learned, experienced, practised". An expert is defined "as a person with the status of an authority (in a subject) by reason of special skill, training or knowledge; a specialist". An expert in the legal process therefore needs to possess sufficient specialised knowledge, skill, training or experience to enable him to supply information and opinions not generally available to members of the public (R v Van Schalkwyk 1948 2 SA 1000 (O); S v Bertrand 1975 4 SA 142 (K) 149 B-C; S v Van den Berg 1975 3 SA 354 (O) 357G; S v Adams 1983 2 SA 577 (A) 586A).

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