February 17, 2021
7. Ian Roberston SC: An Expert on Expert Witnesses

Ian Robertson SC shares his approach to expert reports and witnesses, including how to be guided by their forensic assessment rather than their knowledge, what questions to ask and his formal process for analysis.

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Show notes

  • Introduction: Ian explains the difference between a SC and a QC.
  • Ian’s first trial experience and trial-and-error advocacy journey. 
  • How George Hampel was seminal in Ian’s development as an advocate. 
  • Ian explains why they use the term ‘coach’ instead of ‘teach’ on advocacy courses in Australia. 
  • Advocacy courses that Ian would recommend.
  • The skill that Ian has developed that has helped him succeed in cases. 
  • Preparation that Ian does when he has a case that involves an expert. 
  • Mistakes people make when dealing with experts. 
  • What questions do you ask your expert when you have a conference with them?  
  • The difference between being guided by an expert’s knowledge and being guided by their forensic assessment.  
  • Advice that Ian gives expert witnesses about being in court and the evidence that they are giving. 
  • Preparation/process before speaking to experts.
  • Use Dr Google to help you find out the what the terms used in an expert report mean.  
  • Formal analysis process, use of simple minds app and working back from your conclusion. 
  • Syllogistic approach to analysis.
  • Using diagrams with experts.
  • Mistakes advocates make in examination-in-chief/direct examination of expert witnesses.  
  • Attacking the credibility and impartiality of experts during cross examination. 
  • What useful information can you get from an expert in cross examination. 
  • Hypothetical questions.
  • Stillness of mind.
  • Controlling difficult expert witnesses.
Book mentioned:

Expert Evidence,
Ian Freckelton QC and Hugh Selby QC

Courses mentioned:

The South Eastern Circuit Bar Mess Foundation Advanced International Advocacy Course at Keble College, Oxford

Australian Bar Association:

– Advanced Advocacy Intensive Course
– Essential Trial Advocacy Course
– Appellate Advocacy Workshop
– Remote Advocacy Training Program
– Expert masterclass. 


Ian Robertson SC

Ian Robertson SC was admitted to practice in 1986 and appointed silk, or Senior Counsel, in 2008, having previously practiced as a solicitor for eight years. Practising from Jeffcott Chambers in Adelaide, Australia, Ian focuses primarily on commercial litigation.

Ian describes himself as a generalist, trial and appellate Commercial barrister with a special interest in intellectual property, both litigious and non-litigious. That being said, his practice is diverse, stopping only at matters of personal criminal law. He practices in all Courts in Adelaide and in the federal courts of Australia, including the Family Court and the High Court of Australia.

Ian was President of the South Australian Bar Association (SABA) between 2016 and 2018. He has also acted as the Chair of the Australian Bar Association’s Advocacy Training Council, and a director of the Australian Advocacy Institute. Ian is a regular teacher of advocacy for the SABA, ABA and the Australian Advocacy Institute, offering coaching both in Australia and overseas.