BR v BR Case emphasizes preference for Single Joint Expert in Family Law Proceedings

Citation: [2024] EWFC 11
Judgment on


The case referenced as BR v BR [2024] EWFC 11 delves into the intricacies of expert evidence within family proceedings, specifically in the context of valuing substantial business interests during divorce proceedings. The case was presided over by Mr. Justice Peel in the Family Court sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice. This article provides a systematic analysis of the legal principles applied in the case, discussing the implications these principles hold for expert evidence in family law matters.

Key Facts

In BR v BR, the parties were involved in long-standing cohabitation and marriage spanning over 25 years, which culminated in marital dissolution proceedings. The husband’s substantial business interests formed a significant point of contention regarding their valuation for financial remedy purposes. Initially, both parties agreed on separate valuations by solely instructed experts but, upon the court’s provisional view favoring a Single Joint Expert (SJE), the parties consented to this approach.

The case underscores the significance of adhering to the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR), particularly Rule 25.4(3), which mandates that expert evidence should be restricted to what is necessary to resolve proceedings, and Rule 25.11(1), which envisages the use of a single joint expert where appropriate.

Single Joint Expert (SJE)

The key legal principle at the heart of the case is the presumption in favor of instructing a Single Joint Expert (SJE) for expert evidence in family proceedings, as articulated in Practice Direction (PD) 25D. The motivation behind this principle is well-captured in para 10-18 of the case summary, offering both the rationale and the articulation of the rules:

  1. Cost-effectiveness: Utilizing a SJE tends to be less expensive than two separate experts.
  2. Expert independence: An SJE, not being solely instructed by one party, promotes neutrality and mitigates potential partisan biases amplified by the working relationship between an expert and their instructing party.
  3. Consistent basis for evidence: A SJE operates under a unified set of instructions, reducing the risk of disparities that could arise from experts receiving varied information and instructions.
  4. Shadow experts: Parties may still engage their own experts to support the drafting of instructions or to review the SJE’s report, enabling robust cross-examination and scrutiny.
  5. Provisions for questioning: FPR 25.10 allows parties to raise queries with the SJE post-report submission, enabling clarity and addressing possible oversights.
  6. Daniels v Walker applications: Parties dissatisfied with an SJE report retain the option to seek permission to introduce their own expert evidence.
  7. Ease of obtaining documentation: The appointment of an SJE streamlines the process for document disclosure, often mitigating the need for exhaustive questionnaires.
  8. Costs and proportionality considerations: Careful assessment of costs and value is vital in expert evidence, irrespective of the case’s financial magnitude.

Case-law References

The court in BR v BR referenced J v J [2014] EWHC 3654 (Fam) to affirm the expectation of SJE use “wherever possible,” emphasizing that departure from this standard necessitates strong justification. The court also noted Moor J’s less emphatic stance on SJE in SK v TK [2013] EWHC 834; however, the present case did not adopt that perspective.


Mr. Justice Peel’s judgment firmly supported the directive of a SJE, bypassing the need for separate instruction of experts by each party, and the associated extensive 81-page questionnaire. The judgment highlighted the constructive approach of both parties in agreeing to this method, which aligns with the FPR and associated Practice Directions.


The judgment in BR v BR [2024] EWFC 11 provides a clear affirmation of the overarching principle that dictates a preference for the appointment of a Single Joint Expert in family proceedings involving financial remedies. This preference is entrenched in the FPR and the accompanying Practice Directions, emphasizing a consistent, cost-effective, and impartial approach to obtaining expert evidence. Legal professionals must recognize that the utilization of SJE’s is not just an option but, indeed, a high-bar default in family court proceedings that should be deviated from only with substantial justification.