Peers and clients say:
"Liam works hard to understand a case to its full extent"
"His reports are well written and highly professional"
"He is really experienced - you can draw on his experience"
A fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS) with over 30 years’ experience of major international construction projects, Liam is regularly appointed as quantum expert on large international construction and engineering projects. Liam has provided evidence to formal tribunals on many occasions and has testified in many jurisdictions, in person and virtually. Liam was lead technical author for the 4th RICS Practice Statement and Guidance Note for Surveyors acting as Expert Witnesses.
What green arbitration trends are currently prevalent in the market?
I’m not sure that I would describe them as trends, but new ways of working that are undoubtedly having an environmental impact are the rise of virtual meetings and virtual hearings. The avoidance of at least some of the long haul travel we were all used to pre-pandemic will obviously positively impact the environment. Also, the replacement of paper with electronic files. We are all now getting quite used to our files being carried in electronic form on our laptops.
What challenges do hybrid hearings present from an impartiality standpoint?
I don’t think a hybrid hearing should present any challenges from an impartiality perspective. The tribunals, party representatives and experts in the cases I have been involved in all understand their duties very well and the fact that some may be together in person, whilst others are joining virtually, should not impact on the impartial nature of the hearing.
What hurdles do you face with the increased volume of data being used in disputes, and how are you navigating them?
The increasing volume of data is a real problem, which is impacting on the efficiency and the cost of arbitrations. As a quantum expert involved in complex matters, gone are the days when we would receive a carefully referenced file of relevant documents. That has been replaced with what are often simply substantial ‘dumps’ of unsorted, unreferenced electronic data, all of which needs to be carefully reviewed, which takes time and costs money to undertake in what are often very challenging arbitral timetables.
What makes Secretariat stand out from its competition in the market?
Experience above all. We have a deep pool of international resources led by hugely experienced testifying experts. Quality, integrity and independence are core values and we deliver what we say we will deliver. We try to present our analyses in plain and understandable language to ensure we give tribunals the best assistance that we can.
What steps can younger experts take to improve their chances of getting testifying appointments? Is there an important role to play here for experienced experts?
Younger experts should focus on delivering the best quality work they can when they are working as part of expert teams on large commissions. The quality of their work and their engagement with legal teams as those commissions develop will give lawyers the confidence to appoint those younger practitioners as experts in their own right. In addition to recommending younger experts for appointments, there is a very important and practical role that experienced experts can play here in helping younger experts understand the level of quality that is required in their analysis and especially in their written and oral communication. Experienced experts must also ensure they help younger experts understand the work they have been asked to do in the context of the wider arbitration. We are passionate about developing young experts at Secretariat and are very proud of our track record to date.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
In the context of my work as an expert witness, two pieces of advice: The first from an instructing solicitor at the start of my career who reminded me that I am simply there to assist the tribunal by telling the truth in a reasonable manner. Obvious advice, but in calming a young expert about to give evidence for the first time, it was very helpful. The second from a leading KC who helpfully explained in very careful terms the need to draft reports very concisely – why use twenty words to explain something that could be said in ten?
You have enjoyed a very illustrious career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
From a business perspective, I would like to continue to help my younger colleagues to get onto the expert ladder. From a personal perspective, in due course I would like to use the experience I have gained to spend more time as a tribunal member myself. Quantum obviously plays a significant part of any large dispute as most are about money and I would hope my experience as a testifying quantum expert would be beneficial as a tribunal member. I have some tribunal experience and have very much enjoyed that work.