Roula Harfouche


2nd Floor, 100 Victoria Embankment
EC4Y 0DH, London, England
Tel: +44 7540 15 82 26


Peers and clients say:

"Roula is a great expert with great experience"
"She really is in her own league"
"Roula is one of the most impressive experts I have worked with in over a decade in the industry"


Roula Harfouche is a partner with HKA in London. She specialises in the assessment of damages and complex valuation issues in litigation and international arbitration contexts. She is experienced in matters involving breaches of contract, investment treaty claims, transaction-related disputes and intellectual property infringements. She has been valuing companies, listed and unlisted securities, and intellectual property rights in commercial and contentious contexts since 2000, and has provided valuation or damages assessment services in over 90 disputes.

What inspired you to pursue a career as an expert witness?

It was mainly the mix of intellectual rigour and showmanship that I observed in more senior expert witnesses with whom I worked that inspired me to see if I was up to the challenge. Being an expert witness is very difficult, in particular if you take your duty to the tribunal/court seriously, and therefore have to resist pressure from your client and their counsel as well as sustain attacks from the opposing side’s counsel.

What do clients look for in an effective expert witness?

Clients who are well-advised by their counsel look for an expert who is both knowledgeable and convincing so as to maximise their chances of obtaining a good award from the tribunal/court. These are the clients and counsel I work with and would like to continue working with, as I am convinced that they maximise their chances of obtaining the best and fairest results. Clients who have a hopeless case or are ill-advised by their counsel unfortunately tend to look for an expert who will support maximum or minimum damages, depending on whether the clients are claimant or respondent, and who are ready to say virtually anything with conviction. I am not sure to what extent the second route still works, but sadly I still see it used.

What steps can be made to increase diversity in the arbitration field?

Diversity has increased significantly in the last 20 years in which I have been practising. The ERA pledge has helped, even if it focuses on arbitrators, and I trust that the recently launched Equal Representation for Expert Witnesses pledge will work for expert witnesses. In my view, some of the steps that would help are for counsel to make sure they always put forward to clients one or two women in their lists of proposed experts, and to challenge each other if the lists they put forward are not balanced. When I started, there were three or four female testifying experts in London in total. There are now many more, in London and internationally, so the traditional excuse of “there aren’t any female experts” no longer holds. Female experts should also continue to help each other, for example by recommending each other to WWL, and by mutual referrals.

What effect does a more interventionalist approach from tribunals have on independent expert work?

In my experience, when the tribunal is more prepared and hands on, this has led to faster and better use of expert witnesses both before and during hearings. The tribunal can zoom in on the relevant issues before the hearing, and can stop counsel wasting time on irrelevant or peripheral issues during cross-examinations. The tribunal can also ask for a meeting of experts and a joint statement of experts setting out areas of agreement and disagreement, which then helps better focus the hearing. Finally, the tribunal can ask for a hot tubbing session and direct that session themselves by asking the experts specific questions aimed at truly understanding why the experts differ to allow the tribunal to make a fully-informed decision rather than spend time watching counsel trying to discredit the experts.

What is the key to succeeding as an expert across multiple arbitration institutions and courts in a wide range of jurisdictions?

It depends on your definition of success. If success means to be appointed on many of the bigger cases, then the key is appropriate and regular marketing and business development with the largest law firms in several locations to be front-of-mind of as many counsel as possible. A bit of luck to get your first big case and/or sponsorship by an established expert is also very helpful. If success means to become known for a particular trait or type of dispute or skill, such as valuation, then focusing on this area both in terms of your own training/professional development and in terms of business development and marketing with the law firms that focus on the relevant types of disputes is likely to succeed.

How do you coordinate on cases when working alongside experts with other areas of expertise?

It can be challenging to have different experts on a case, in particular for the damages expert who has to rely on the opinions of other experts and bring it all together in their calculation of damages. In my experience, if the other experts are in your own firm, for example technical/engineering experts and damages experts as we have at HKA, then coordination is much easier. If the technical or market expert is external, then making clear who is responsible for checking that expert’s findings, i.e. counsel or the damages experts, will help avoid duplication of efforts or inconsistencies/errors. In my experience, when the damages expert regularly reviews and discusses the technical or market expert’s findings, and can make corrections/suggestions for changes, together with counsel if needed, this leads to better and more convincing reports.