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This was an evidentiary ruling in the trial of the Roundup class action. The applicant sought to lead expert evidence from Dr William Sawyer as to the carcinogenic effects of Roundup. The respondents applied to exclude Dr Sawyers’ evidence under s 135 of the Evidence Act 1995 (Cth), on the basis that, inter alia:

  • he had previously given similar evidence in numerous other cases against the respondents; and 
  • he has a fixed view that the respondents have engaged in unethical and, indeed, criminal conduct in seeking to interfere with the publication of scientific research concerning the alleged carcinogenic effects of Roundup, 

and therefore, lacked the degree of independence ordinarily required of an expert who is giving opinion evidence. 

That application was made after the respondents had made a forensic decision not to lead evidence from their opposing expert in response to Dr Sawyers’ evidence. His Honour refused the respondents’ application, in effect holding that the appropriate course was to allow Dr Sawyers’ evidence to be admitted, in circumstances where each party no doubt will, in closing submissions, closely scrutinise the evidence, and address the weight that should be attached to it. 

McNickle v Huntsman Chemical Company Australia Pty Ltd (Evidentiary Ruling) [2023] FCA 1268 

Federal Court of Australia, Lee J,
23 October 2023 

Applicant’s Solicitors: Maurice Blackburn
Respondents’ Solicitors: Herbert Smith Freehills
Applicant’s Funder: N/A

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