Peers and clients say:
"He's able to delivery top-quality work quickly, always meeting the tribunal's needs"
"His most outstanding quality is his ability to communicate complex issues and opinions both in writing and orally"
"He is calm and clear in the witness box"
Matthew Finn is regularly appointed as an expert witness in the field of quantum (damages) in energy, infrastructure and construction matters. He has given oral evidence in UK litigation and in many high-value international arbitrations (up to $5 billion disputes) on many occasions under both traditional cross-examination and under concurrent evidence commonly known as “hot tubbing”. He has submitted over 100 quantum expert reports in litigation and in arbitration (ICC, SIAC, UNCITRAL, LCIA, SCC and PCA).
Outline your career to date
I commenced my career as a trainee quantity surveyor for a mechanical and electrical contractor after leaving school. I later joined a leading international consultancy while studying for a BTEC National Certificate. After a few more years, I went into main contracting working for Vinci whilst I undertook a BSc, which I completed with First Class Honours. This was designed to take five years, but I achieved it in three years whilst working in a demanding senior surveying role. I subsequently joined Balfour Beatty and Willmott Dixon leading large commercial teams and disputes whilst undertaking CIArb examinations and a LLM. I received some neutral dispute appointments which led me to joining Ankura.
What is it about expert witness work that you find most fulfilling?
I enjoy working across different sectors in the industry and gaining different experiences. When working in main contracting, I worked on projects in the building, building services, civil engineering, power, nuclear, rail, oil and gas sectors. The challenges of working on a stadium project to a nuclear power plant, along with the disputes that are brought on, always kept me interested. Undertaking expert witness work gives me an immense variety of work and I can apply my experience from live projects in those various sectors.
How does your approach in traditional cross-examination and concurrent evidence differ?
Concurrent evidence enables me to offer independent objective evidence in a less adversarial process. It also gives me the opportunity to deal with specific issues or questions and to identify the reason for that difference of opinion, particulary whether the difference in opinion is due to reliance on different facts or assumptions or for some more fundamental reason. It is important to remain honest, objective, clear and helpful (HOCH) throughout your testimony.
You are a senior managing director at Ankura. What have you brought to this role so far, and what do you hope to achieve in the future?
Presenting opportunities for early-in-career aspiring experts is an important duty I have to my team. I recognise the challenges of receiving expert appointments and gaining the experience of oral testimony. I have assisted others in advancing their expert careers to get their first appointment.
As I have a very diverse client base, opportunities are provided all over the world and in all different sectors. This aligns to the Ankura business model of being an internationally preferred name.
How do you effectively coordinate in cases when working alongside experts with different areas of expertise?
Typically, I work with forensic accounting, delay and engineering experts in which my quantum evidence relies upon certain positions or assumptions which they make. As information evolves during an arbitration, it is likely that these opinions may change, subsequently changing my opinion on the quantum. I find that highlighting changes early to my instructing lawyers is important, as it may have a wider impact on matters I am not involved in i.e. settlement discussions, case management, positioning of advocates etc. Being a quantum expert means that you have to be flexible and offer alternatives on different experts and/or evidence all the way through to post-hearing. Positions may even change during a hearing, whereby another expert may concede a position to put to them, so you have to be ready to give the tribunal an alternative position to assist them.
What are the most significant developments in arbitration proceedings you are anticipating in the near future, and what steps are you taking to prepare for them?
Recently, I have experienced tribunals that engage more throughout the arbitration with the experts, which I have found very efficient. I have been asked to attend CMCs and give updates alongside the opposing quantum experts to the tribunal to clear any roadblocks. This facilitated joint statements that were helpful to the tribunal. With Redfern schedules requests, there is often difficulty with the parties agreeing on the level of information. In a recent arbitration, the tribunal directed that the experts agreed via a joint statement on what level of information was required from the Redfern schedule. This improved the efficiency of requests on what was a very complex and high-value case into several billions of dollars.
To what extent has the international arbitration community supported the challenge of improving diversity in recent years?
The Equal Representation in Arbitration and the Equal Representation for Expert Witnesses are welcomed pledges to international arbitration. They have highlighted that action is required for improving diversity across the international arbitration community.
In the construction industry, there is a need to ensure action is being taken to encourage diversity for graduates and early-in-career roles. As a result of a more diverse construction industry, we will see more diverse talent and experts within their specialised fields.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Deliver a high-quality product and work hard and remain honest, objective, clear and helpful, and you will develop a sustained client base of repeat workload. Reputation is everything and that reputation has to be sustained over time; being an expert is a marathon not a sprint to the finish.