60 Robinson Road, BEA building #14-01
068892, Singapore, Singapore
Peers and clients say:
"He has a real gift for being able to simplify what would otherwise be fairly complex mathematical calculations"
"He offers great strategic advice"
"Chaitanya is very helpful when presenting cases to clients and arbitral tribunals alike"
Chaitanya Arora is a managing director with Secretariat in Singapore. His career spans over 23 years, during which he has worked as a financial auditor, M&A adviser, specialist in due diligence and expert witness on the quantification of damages, lost profits, and valuation and he is regularly instructed by parties and tribunals as an independent financial expert witness. He has lived and worked across several locations in the US, India, Europe, and Southeast Asia.
What attracted you to a career in arbitration?
My career in arbitration is a happy accident in my life. I never intended to become a financial expert on damages and valuation, and I had planned a career in M&A. Life took a turn when I took a role to lead a consulting firm in India and I liked where it turned to. The dispute resolution community in India at the time was gaining familiarity with the role and involvement of expert witnesses in the dispute resolution process and I was able to establish a successful expert witness practice in India in that environment.
What is the most rewarding aspect of working as an arbitration expert witness and why?
Each dispute has nuances that provide a wide variety of problems to which a solution is sought with the application of knowledge and experience. In discharging our duty to the tribunal as an expert, we are faced with challenges that are sometimes simultaneously approached by intellectually equal or superior peers. This aspect of the role of an arbitration expert promotes constant learning, which I find rewarding. In addition, working on disputes within a variety of industries broadens my understanding of business in general and those specific industries. Another rewarding aspect of working as an expert witness in arbitration is the teamwork and evolution of ideas that come from various members involved in the problem-solving approach to a situation in dispute.
What sort of arbitration matters are you most active on at present?
I am engaged on a variety of matters, both in terms of industries and the nature of disputes. These matters range from joint venture disputes, disagreements between founders and funders of startups, breach of supply contracts, post-acquisition disputes, disagreements between family members, private equity investments that have underperformed and cases where there are allegations of fraud and misconduct. These situations are in a variety of industries such as oil and gas, financial technology, pharmaceuticals, power generation, construction, cryptocurrency etc.
How would you characterise the current perception of expert witnesses in the market?
It depends on the jurisdiction and geography, and the participants in the arbitration process. For many participants (tribunal members, counsel, and parties) the role of the expert is well understood, especially if the participants are from developed markets. There are, however, situations where participants from developing geographies have had less exposure to the role and the involvement of an expert.
What is the key to succeeding as an expert across multiple arbitration institutions and courts in a wide range of jurisdictions?
The keys to success for an expert witness are to first have the expertise truly in the subject that they provide their opinion on and second, the ability to maintain objectivity despite the obvious conflict between the duty to the tribunal or court and the expectations of the appointing party. The ability of an expert witness to balance the expectations of various stakeholders in the dispute resolution process, while discharging their duty to the tribunal or court determines the longevity and success of the expert’s career.
What challenges do you face with the increased volume of data being used in disputes, and how are you navigating them?
Increased volume of data in disputes is a challenge that I overcome by using the various tools that are now available to organise and analyse the vast volume of data expeditiously and accurately. The development and enhancement of such tools allows me to keep pace with the ever-increasing volume of data and complexity of analysis that needs to be performed.
What do you think will be the greatest challenges facing arbitration experts over the next five years and how will you ensure you are prepared to face them?
The pace at which industries are being disrupted by the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning makes five years seem like a very long time. I think the arbitration expert witness will also be challenged by artificial intelligence. To prepare for the impact, I am exploring ways to incorporate the technology into our work and to adapt to the new approaches that are emerging.
What role can firms play to better assist up-and-coming experts in gaining their first appointment as an expert witness?
Firms can play an instrumental role in assisting emerging experts with their first appointment as an expert witness by encouraging a culture of collaboration and teamwork among the more experienced and seasoned experts. I find the challenge to come more from parties and counsels who are looking to instruct experts and are hesitant to appoint an upcoming expert with no prior experience of giving evidence. Such resistance can sometimes be overcome if seasoned experts’ team up with upcoming experts and jointly take on engagements. Firms can also assist by offering clients commercially attractive terms if they are prepared to instruct up-and-coming experts.