Guy Elkington is a leading name among expert witnesses in the region, with sources proclaiming that he is “always a positive asset to the legal team”.
Guy Elkington is a chartered quantity surveyor with over 35 years’ experience in the international construction industry. Guy often acts as an expert witness in construction arbitrations providing testimony on quantum issues relating to civil engineering, rail, infrastructure, building and oil & gas / power projects on projects throughout the Middle East, Asia and Europe. He also occasionally sits as an arbitrator on construction disputes.
What has been your most memorable case as an expert witness and why?
A case involving the termination of a contract relating to the provision of security services to a construction project in a geographical area subject to potential armed conflict and terrorism-related activity. This involved the investigation of costs and resources from a military background and a number of issues that were far from every day. The cross examination of personnel from an armed forces background led to some unusually direct answers, leaving advocates at a loss for words.
What is it that you find most enjoyable about working as an expert witness arbitrator?
The variety of disputes that you can be engaged on and the different combination of circumstances that can have impacted a project ranging from the full range of human activity / inactivity to geopolitics and changing economic conditions. This means that no two disputes are the same. In international arbitration, you are also involved with a diverse range of corporate personalities which is fascinating to see different business cultures interact and collide.
What skills should younger practitioners be developing to improve their chances of gaining appointments, and how best can they go about developing said skills?
Continue to work on live projects and involve yourself in live matters for as long as you can. Focus on developing technical skills (particularly relating to the analysis of data) that will minimise manhours and monitor your own costs.
What are the greatest challenges facing experts and how do you see construction disputes evolving over the next few years, and how best can experts adapt to this evolution?
There is continued pressure on limiting or fixing the costs of construction disputes and/or concluding dispute processes in an abridged manner, yet there is an expectation that standards of investigation and analysis are maintained by experts and are not eroded. Experts will need to focus on dealing with the tensions that can arise from this pressure and develop ways of ensuring that checks and balances can be maintained by leveraging technology to save time and cost.
Are there any new developments that you expect to impact arbitration in the future, and how are you preparing to mitigate these changes?
There is a great deal of debate as to how AI will or will not transform the dispute process and the provision of opinion evidence. Experts will need to stay abreast of developments and how the use of AI can be used to save time but also be subject to the necessary checks and balances. The extent to which AI can assist in providing opinion evidence in addition to being an aid to the location of relevant evidence remains to be seen. It may impact on different expert disciplines in different ways.
If you could introduce one reform into international arbitration proceedings that would aid the work of expert witnesses, what would it be?
The degree to which experts (and the firms to which they belong) should or should not be involved in the preparation of their client’s case. There is a grey area between the provision of high-level advice on the type of methodology that an expert can or cannot support (which is unlikely to prejudice an expert’s independence) or getting more hands-on in claims preparation (and whether or not this impacts the ability to provide expert opinion on a claim that an expert may have prepared). There are differing views in differing jurisdictions as to whether or not this is an issue and the degree to which this type of activity can or should be disclosed. It may assist if the international bodies develop protocols or guidelines on the degree of disclosure that could be made about these activities.
What advice would you give to the younger generation of budding expert witnesses?
Ensure that your written language skills are second-to-none and that your drafting is concise and clear.
The importance of reading as widely as you can on a range of topics is seen as unfashionable or lacking relevance in today’s multimedia world, but it still has relevance to developing and maintaining drafting abilities.