Experts and the ultimate issue rule

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademic


Adjudication of complex criminality requires specific knowledge of a diverse set of complex and technical topics. A judge does not have the required knowledge to interpret and value all the facts in the case properly, nor can he be expected to gain this kind of knowledge. Therefore, opinions of experts are necessary to establish the facts in a criminal trial. The use of expert opinions raises new questions. One of them is whether the expert may testify directly to the existence or non-existence of a constitutive fact; i.e. the ultimate issues. The basic principle of criminal law is that the judge finds the facts. The ultimate issue-rule derives from this principle that it is not permitted for an expert to express a conclusion on the facts in issue. It is doubtful whether the ultimate issue-rule is recognized as a rule of law in the Netherlands, although several scholars argue it is. I will defend that there is no ultimate issue-rule in the Netherlands and that experts are allowed to and do express their opinions about the facts in issue. In my paper I will compare the law of England and the Netherlands and look at the jurisprudence of the High Court of the Netherlands.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComplex criminality
EditorsD. Abels, D. Bruin, H. Van der Wilt
PublisherEleven International Publishing
ISBN (Print)978‐94‐6236‐713‐5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Experts
  • Expert evidence
  • Ultimate issue-rule

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