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expert evidence, expert witness, economist, competition law, confidential information, privileged information, conflict of interest, independence of expert, risk of disclosure of confidential or privileged information, ‘real and sensible’ risk of disclosure
This case commentary reviews Sweeney v VHI, where the Supreme Court of Ireland held that an academic economist could not be retained as an expert witness by one party to a competition law action, where he had previously acted for the other party in separate proceedings, and had been in receipt of confidential or privileged information. The court held that the role of an economist in competition law actions required a high degree of interaction with the client and legal team, such that privileged or confidential information would be likely to be exchanged. Where there was a real risk that such information would be disclosed, the expert should be excluded from acting for the other side in other proceedings.