Giovanni Di Folco
Techno Engineering & Associates Group
22 Muzelor Street, Sector 4
040191, Bucharest, Romania
Giovanni Di Folco receives emphatic endorsements for his arbitration expertise, and is described as “a remarkable delay expert” with “huge knowledge regarding the construction process and methodologies”.
I graduated as a Civil Engineer 37 years ago and am the founder, president and senior partner of my own consultancy firm Techno Engineering & Associates Group since 2004.
Associations include: member of the Dispute Board Federation (DBF); International Arbitrator; Expert Witness - Delay & Quantum; FIDIC member; FIDIC President’s List of Certified Adjudicators; FIDIC Accredited Trainer; visiting professor at Polytechnic of Milano University; Vice president of the Romanian Associations of Consulting Engineers (ARIC); and the president of the Dispute Resolution Board Foundation - Region 2 Board (DRBF).
Describe your career to date.
After graduation, my career has included my own contracting firm, senior positions with Parsons International consultancy, and although I’m a qualified specialist in pavement engineering by profession, the international experience I’ve gained has enabled the development of my wide diversity of skills in contract, delay and quantum analyses, planning engineering, construction law, claims, and my expanding involvement in adjudication and arbitration have allowed me to successfully found and operate my own consultancy firm Techno Engineering & Associates Group since 2004.
As president of Techno Engineering & Associates Group, in what ways does the firm distinguish itself from competitors?
Unlike our competitors, TE&A provides a unique one-stop-shop Techno-Legal complete consulting service which includes integrated contract and claims management assistance. We prepare all aspects of contractors’ claims, most commonly, but not limited to extension of time and prolongation costs claims, complete with forensic delay and quantum analyses. We also represent our clients as counsel throughout the course of the dispute resolution procedures under the works contract, including Dispute adjudication board proceedings, arbitration or local courts as appropriate.
You are also the president of Dispute Resolution Board Foundation. How does your role and engagement in the organisation enhance your practice?
My position as president of Region 2 of the DRBF requires me to maintain close contact and interaction with esteemed members. Our common goal is to promote the ability, and improve the calibre, of our members, and in so doing, this reflects on the quality and rigour of the services we provide and the mission we carry to pursue dispute avoidance and resolution best practice worldwide.
Some practitioners have argued that tribunals should demand more of quantum experts in reaching a consensus on the outcome value. To what extent do you share this view?
In my experience as counsel, adjudicator and arbitrator, the quantum experts involved in arbitration proceedings have been thorough and have maintained an independent approach focussed on assisting the tribunal. However, there are occasions when some experts have been criticised for their bias or superficial approach to the discipline. I support the continuing drive for the improvement of experts, but in my view those worthy of criticism are few and far between.
Do you think the increase in transparency found in arbitration proceedings has encouraged experts to remain impartial? Or do you think further steps are needed?
Impartiality is always a concern. Much is down to the behaviour of the expert, because in my view, perception is reality. If an expert gives the impression of bias, then they will be perceived as a ‘hired gun’ even though they may actually behave impartially. The expert’s disclosure of potential conflict of interest is most important.
What is the key to succeeding as an expert across multiple arbitration institutions and courts in a wide range of jurisdictions?
An expert’s approach should always be uniform, thorough and transparent analysis, clear and precise and well-presented calculations and reports should contain well explained principles of the methodologies adopted with supporting references to published practitioners. Oral testimonies should be clear and unhurried, allowing sufficient time for the counsels and the tribunal to comprehend.
What was the most memorable appointment in your arbitration expert career so far?
Undoubtedly, my appointment as counsel for the respondent in an international arbitration matter where back in the year 2010 I became the first counsel worlwide to enforce an ex-parte DAB’s decision in an ICC arbitration as part of a bifurcated procedure, which made worldwide jurisprudence.
What are some of the main obstacles to continuing the digitisation of arbitration?
Without criticising the ability of most arbitrators, they are often generally ‘old-school’ and show a tendency to prefer hard-copy submissions of evidence and expert reports. Much progress has been made by the use of improved software, such as PowerPoint presentations, .pdf documents, and a broader use and reliability of excel spreadsheets and other software such as Primavera P6 programmes and I would encourage a wider use of the same. Reliance upon mental arithmetic and summarised numerical awards have, in my experience, led to errors, some of which have been substantial and have caused great difficulties in obtaining corrections and clarifications after publication of the awards to the parties.