The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street
SE1 9SG, London, England
Peers and clients say:
"Richard is among the top in his field at delay and disruption analysis"
"He is extremely thorough and has an encyclopaedic grasp of the relevant facts"
"Richard is a really solid expert with huge amounts of experience"
Richard Edwin is a managing director at Kroll. He is a chartered civil engineer and delay analyst with over 40 years’ experience in the construction industry and has been appointed on over 60 occasions to provide independent expert programming and delay advice on major and complex international civil engineering and building projects. Richard has testified on many occasions in international arbitration (ICC, ICSID and LCIA) and DAB proceedings, including witness conferencing.
What motivated you to pursue a career as an expert witness?
I had been working as a civil engineer and construction manager for over 20 years but was interested in contracts and construction law. After achieving a postgraduate diploma in laws in 2001, I worked as a claims consultant and, given the opportunity to take on a delay expert role, I quickly found that I preferred the forensic investigation and analysis of project delays in order to provide independent expert opinion in relation to programme and delay issues and helping to resolve disputes.
You have impressive experience establishing offices in jurisdictions like the UAE. What are the key skills required for successfully establishing a new office?
Setting up a new office in a different jurisdiction requires patience, resilience and tenacity to infiltrate an existing and established market and to persuade the incumbent law firms that you can provide high quality independent work product, with integrity, in a reasonable time and at a competitive cost. Thereafter, you must continue to deliver exceptional work time and time again in order to cement your reputation.
What are the main challenges construction-related arbitration presents to experts today?
In the current financial climate, clients are becoming increasingly cost-conscious and frequently appoint the lowest bidder. Consequently, it is necessary to continually find more innovative ways to deliver additional value for the least cost in the shortest time. Adopting more efficient methods for processing and analysing the huge volumes of records and information that are generated in present-day arbitrations is becoming ever more critical and, hence, clients need to save and store their documents in a more-readily accessible and searchable form.
How has your experience as a main contractor and construction manager enhanced your expert practice? How crucial is this experience for new arbitration experts to try and build?
Practical experience in the industry enables an expert readily to understand a wide variety of construction methods and issues, and assess their impacts, even where such methods may have changed since gaining that experience. New experts who have not been exposed to live construction projects have to rely on documents, photographs, videos and descriptions produced by those who were there or who have the relevant experience. Whilst an expert can form compelling opinions on this basis, such opinions may not be seen to be as robust or reliable as if the expert had obtained specific experience in the field.
What are some of the main obstacles to continuing the digitisation of arbitration?
Whilst the conduct of the proceedings in digitised format is feasible at face value, it seems to me that the fundamental building blocks of any dispute – contemporaneous records and correspondence – are unlikely to become digitised in the near future due to the inherent distrust between parties that such “documents” can be relied upon as a true and accurate record of contemporaneous events. Further, experts need to satisfy themselves of the original sources of any documents relied upon in the arbitration and digitised versions are seldom capable of providing such confirmation. Therefore, suitable means must be identified to deliver these assurances.
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?
An independent expert’s role is to assist the tribunal to reach a robust, fair and reasonable decision. Truly independent experts seek to reach a consensus on as much of the dispute as possible and to explain the differences of opinion where consensus cannot be reached. In the latter event, at the very least, quantum experts should seek to confirm whether or not they agree with their counterpart’s figures, and their approach to calculating the same, in the event the tribunal prefers the opposing party’s arguments, so that the tribunal has a degree of certainty regarding the outcome value.
What is it you enjoy most in your role as an arbitration expert witness?
I particularly enjoy the variety of projects on which I am engaged, learning about the different countries in which they are located, and meeting the different characters that are involved. In particular, understanding how different cultures impact upon the performance of similar work on different projects is so interesting and can be crucial in developing a better understanding of why things went wrong on a particular project.
What advice would you give to young expert witnesses hoping to be in your position one day?
Young experts should gain as much experience as they can, on as wide a variety of projects as possible, by speaking to and learning from many different current experts; if they have not gained practical experience on site, I would suggest that they do so as early in their careers as possible, even for a short time. They should read and learn from reports prepared by a variety of experts to help develop their own style of drafting, and also try to observe different experts giving evidence in hearings to gain experience in how they deal with different styles of cross examination. They should familiarise themselves with developments in relevant technology. And most important of all, they should always maintain their independence.