Peers and clients say:
"He is quick to grasp the facts of the case and is very good at orally explaining his analytical approach"
"He remains very calm during his cross-examination and gave very profound and persuasive answers"
"Thomas has a profound knowledge of the subject matter"
Thomas Hofbauer is a senior managing director at FTI Consulting and is based in Munich. Thomas is a civil engineer with 25 years of experience in the construction and engineering industries. He has acted as both delay and quantum expert in infrastructure, IT, power and rolling stock disputes in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America and has given evidence in arbitral proceedings under DIS, ICC, VIAC and Swiss Rules.
Describe your career to date.
In 1997 I started my career as a design engineer in tunnelling projects before I accidentally stumbled into the claims business. Here I learned that the commercial aspect of project delivery has an extremely high impact on the success of a project and that, as a claims consultant I can strongly contribute to that success. After a few years I started with a UK company, which opened the doors to international projects and, finally, disputes. I was then lucky to work with great teams and had the chance to develop my expert witness services in international arbitration outside the UK. And, here we are.
How has your background as a civil engineer affected your approach as a delay and quantum expert?
Civil engineering is a very versatile engineering discipline that has, in addition to the technical aspects, a very strong focus on project execution, schedules and costs. Also, especially in Germany, there has always been a very high cost pressure on construction companies, which has led to a high sensitivity to scope changes, hindrances, and disruptions.
Being educated in that environment helps to understand why projects fail and how different causes have a negative effect on both the time and budget of a project. This helps to focus on the essential aspects during the project analysis, which enables a robust analysis of delay and quantum.
Over time, we understood that other capital projects fail because of the very same reasons as construction projects, which helped me a lot as an expert witness analysing delay and quantum in a variety of industries.
What are the most significant challenges you are anticipating expert witnesses to encounter over the next year, and how are you planning to navigate them?
I think there are two significant challenges: first, to structure and understand the multitude of information from different sources. Second, to translate the outcome of the analysis into a language that a tribunal can put into their legal context to come to a decision that the parties understand and accept.
There has been a lot of activity in Europe regarding infrastructure, with major highway and rail projects expected to impact the market. How effective is arbitration at dealing with such cases at the moment?
In summary I tend to say that arbitration is effective for these projects. Especially as I don’t really see an effective alternative. Also, alternative dispute resolution that takes place during the course of project execution helps in that many projects don’t even get into a formal dispute such as arbitration.
How has the shift to online working and events affected networking opportunities?
I always thought that online events are good for networking. Not so good when it comes to establishing strong relationships, but you got to meet people with a very international background who might not have attended if they had to travel.
However, after a few live events you immediately understand that nothing replaces a face-to-face meeting and a relaxed chat at the bar.
How does FTI Consulting distinguish itself from the competition?
What makes us unique? With more than 6,950 employees located in offices in every corner of the globe, we are the firm our clients call on when they are facing their greatest challenges and opportunities.
For me as expert witness I can draw not only on my competence and expertise but also on experienced experts in almost any question that may arise in a dispute. This internal collaboration makes it easy and efficient for us and also for our clients.
What underrated skills would you encourage the up-and-coming generation of arbitration professionals to develop?
Expert witnesses love facts and figures and sometimes hardly understand that someone from a different background doesn’t get the crucial point as quick as the expert did. Therefore, I strongly recommend working on communication skills including report writing and presentations.