Q&A with expert witness, Simon Braithwaite
Simon is a chartered quantity surveyor and a member of the Academy of Experts, with over 25 years’ professional experience in construction, consulting and providing expert witness evidence in relation to delay, disruption, productivity, and damages. Simon is often appointed as an independent expert in both international and domestic disputes and has presented written and oral evidence in relation to many matters globally.
What do you enjoy most about working as an expert witness in construction matters?
I enjoy each engagement. They each have their own uniqueness, different types of projects, different contracts, different jurisdictions, and different people. I enjoy working with a variety of diverse clients, the forensic analysis undertaken to figure out the cause, effect and impact of issues that occur and expressing that within an expert opinion.
What is the most memorable experience from your extensive involvement in international construction cases?
There are a couple. My first time providing expert evidence was particularly memorable as it was as daunting as you might expect.
Visiting some interesting projects in different parts of the world provides some good and interesting memories. On such projects, providing expert evidence with multiple languages is interesting and challenging, and it is impressive how such hearings are coordinated.
What are the most common and most avoidable delay and disruption issues that your clients face at the moment?
Most disputes can be routed to the risks taken in the contract. Recent delay and disruption events have been in relation to ground conditions on renewables projects, particularly with who is responsible for the ground conditions under the contract. To avoid such issues, I would recommend taking commercial and technical provisions to address such issues.
What are the key skills involved in collaborating effectively with experts from different areas of expertise?
Personality and the ability to work with others from various jurisdictions and expertise. It is important to understand how experts from other areas impact your work and how your work and opinions impact other experts who rely on it. Maintaining independence is also a key factor.
How does Diales differ from its competitors in the market?
Although Diales experts are spread across the globe, they work closely together sharing significant knowledge with each other and upcoming experts, meaning there is a team of highly qualified experts. There is a significant focus on independence and a high bar to reach to be considered a Diales expert witness. Working alongside some of the technical experts at Diales is interesting, particularly in some of the niche areas of their expertise.
What are the advantages of including experts in the initial stages of construction projects?
There are significant advantages to including experts early on in a project. Most experts have experienced the impacts of projects gone wrong and the pitfalls to avoid. Engaging experts and consultants early in the project will usually provide guidance.
How do you see the sector changing in the near future?
I think there will be an increased use of early/ongoing dispute resolution mechanisms, particularly on larger projects involving international parties.
It will also be interesting to see how AI plays a part in the analysis work undertaken by experts, particularly regarding its reliability and acceptance. I am not sure that it will replace the human element required for working as an expert witness.
What do you wish you had known before starting out as a construction expert?
I didn’t know I was going to become an expert witness; it was a natural career progression as my experience grew and the opportunity or requirement to provide expert evidence presented itself.
This article was originally published by Who’s Who Legal, as part of Simon’s WWL profile. View his profile here: www.lexology.com/firms/1297554/Simon_Braithwaite