With special thanks to trainee, Jonathan Peters, for his contribution to this article.
Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof is being sued by the band's former keyboardist, John Moylett (AKA Johnnie Fingers), who claims that he wrote crucial parts of the music and lyrics for their 1979 hit 'I Don't Like Mondays'. Geldof currently has a sole writing credit for the song, but Moylett says that he composed the intro piano riff, as well as parts of the lyrics. Moylett has publicly sought credit for the song since 2004, but is now suing Geldof in the High Court for two-thirds of the royalties from the song, amassed over nearly four decades.
An interim hearing on 14 March 2018 addressed an application by Geldof to strike out part of an expert's report that contained the opinions of individuals other than the permitted expert, namely two leading professional guitarists who the expert had asked to perform the music.
Geldof also argued that the report was inadmissible because it expressed an opinion on an issue at the very heart of the proceedings – whether the music was more likely to have been composed on a guitar (meaning Geldof was more likely to have written it) or piano (which would support Moylett's claim).
Carr J relied on Rogers v Hoyle  EWHC 1409 (QB), where it was held that there was nothing to be gained from excising certain types of opinion evidence present in an expert's report before trial. It was concluded here and in the earlier case that the trial judge should be able to consider the whole report, and attach such weight as they saw fit to particular aspects of it.
Moreover, the expert here had been entitled to rely on the guitarists' performance –in the context of the report, he was forming his own view based on what they had demonstrated. He had not sought to rely on anything said by them as being expert opinion, which would not have been permissible.
Likewise, Carr J stated that it was unnecessary to exclude evidence that dealt with the key question of which instrument was used to compose the riff, which could also be the appropriate subject of expert evidence in reply.
The ruling follows the practical approach taken in Rogers v Hoyle with regard to the treatment of expert reports. Specifically, even reports with sections on the margins of admissibility, or which contain inferences requiring no special expertise, should reach the trial judge in their entirety, rather than with parts missing. That is not to say that the rules regulating what can be submitted as expert evidence have been relaxed – Carr J's judgment was delivered in relation to a report which, taken as a whole, was not considered to have any major problems, so lawyers advising on expert reports should not anticipate more leniency in future as to their contents.
The trial is scheduled for 11/12 April 2018 and listed for 10-15 days. We will update you as and when the judgment is handed down on the substantive issues. Stay tuned!