One Central - The Offices 5, Level 1, Suite 106, Sheikh Zayed Road
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
“Go-to delay expert" Mike Saulsbury is operating at “the top of his game” in the UAE, comment sources, who point to his “excellent attention to detail” as a key strength.
Mr Saulsbury is a managing director of Secretariat. He specialises in providing consultation on construction and engineering projects and has principally been appointed by clients, or clients legal counsel, who are involved in large capital projects or other construction-related matters. He is frequently appointed as an independent expert and has testified many times as an expert witness. His professional experience includes working with global owners, developers, engineers, contractors and stakeholders to consult on matters related to project management, project controls, scheduling/programming, contract disputes and claims.
What have been some of your greatest career highlights?
I have had the privilege to live and work in the United States, the United Kingdom, and now the United Arab Emirates. While that naturally involved some professional and personal transitions, it has given me the opportunity to meet and work with people, and work on exciting projects, that I might not have had the opportunity to do otherwise.
Why did you choose to specialise as a construction expert and what do you enjoy most about this role?
Construction projects are by their nature challenging and dynamic, and rarely go exactly as planned. Early in my career, I was exposed to some of the more complicated project management issues such as dealing with claims and extensions of time. I found the necessary forensic investigations that I was doing to be interesting. As a result of those early experiences, I decided to pursue opportunities to build my career as an expert on even more challenging projects.
What do clients look for in an effective testifying expert?
A dispute exists because the parties do not see eye to eye. If things were perfectly clear to everyone involved, then there would be no need for an expert. In those circumstances, clients want, and need, an expert who provides objective, impartial, and well-reasoned opinions in order to bring more clarity to the dispute. Tribunals demand the same. Unless experts are able to do that effectively, the value they bring to the process is minimised.
How do construction litigation and arbitration proceedings differ? Which do you prefer?
I have experience in both construction litigation and arbitration. Most of my work in the Middle East is in the arbitration arena. It is not so much of a preference, but the reality of how most complex construction disputes are resolved here, especially with the dynamics of what are often international stakeholders.
What can independent experts offer in the market?
For a long time, the Middle East was dominated by claims consultants. As the dispute resolution market has matured, that has since changed and there are now a greater number of locally based experts specialising in construction disputes and arbitration. In arbitration environments, the most effective experts assist the tribunal by providing clear, independent opinions on the issues in dispute within their particular expert discipline.
Which types of projects are resulting in the most disputes at the moment? Why do you think this is?
Going back a decade or more, Middle Eastern countries invested heavily in brand new or expanded airport infrastructure. With those projects completed, there has been subsequent investment in metro projects across a number of major cities. As large projects with multiple stakeholders and complex delivery and supply chains, those projects have led to some disputes.
What is the greatest piece of career advice you have received?
I have had the privilege of working with many construction industry professionals, lawyers and other experts in my career, many of whom I owe gratitude for their mentorship and development in my career. While it is hard to pinpoint a single piece of advice, a number of people have instilled upon me the benefits of being a lifelong learner. It is a process that enables continued growth and adaptation to changing times throughout one’s career. You certainly can teach a dog of any age new tricks.