Wendy MacLaughlin is relied upon by clients as “a top delay expert” who is able to be “very composed throughout difficult cross-examinations”.
Wendy MacLaughlin is a chartered civil engineer and a senior partner at GBsqd in London. She has over 25 years of experience in the engineering and construction industry, specifically on major projects in the power sector during her time with Arup, in both site-based roles and project office roles. Her years working as a consulting civil engineer provides her with a sound basis for her primary role as a programming, delay and disruption expert.
What do you enjoy most about your role as a testifying expert?
It’s definitely not the testifying part, which remains terrifying. I enjoy getting to the bottom of what happened on a project. Having been part of large EPC projects I enjoy reading the project communications, working out what the progress and schedule information all means, and being able to set out clearly why the project was delayed.
What inspired you to specialise in arbitration expert witness work?
That’s hard to say as it was not at all planned at all. I didn’t even know this expert witness work existed. However, once I moved off projects and into consulting, I knew that arbitration was what I wanted to do because of the quality of the solicitors and barristers, and the international nature of the work.
To what extent is the increasingly virtual nature of disputes making for a more efficient process? In what aspects is it falling short?
Working remotely is something I have done for more than 50 per cent of the time since 2008 when I lived in Brazil. Travelling less is definitely making drafting experts reports a more efficient process as I’m not interrupted by long haul flights. The lack of face-to-face meetings can present some inefficiencies in the document gathering process for a delay analysis.
In the hearing stages, from an expert’s perspective, the virtual landscape seems makes it easier to break up what would have previously been one hearing for a few weeks into multiple smaller tranches. Overall, in my experience, this ends up extending the hearing time, which is less efficient. However, I can see the benefits in dealing with discrete issues in shorter, earlier hearings virtually without the associated travel time, expense and associated emissions.
In relation to giving evidence, doing it virtually feels different, aside from not having to wear shoes. I think that tribunal members are in a better position to express views on the efficacy of expert evidence virtually than I am.
What do you find most challenging about the increasingly technological and international nature of investigations?
I think it’s exciting. I’m waiting for an AI algorithm to be developed to change what we delay analysts do completely. That along with the increased use of tech on construction sites to track real time progress should be transformational for delay analysis, in a good way.
How does gb2 stand out from its competitors?
We are small, niche, lean, we are very down to earth, straight talking and we do good quality delay and quantum work that needs to be done to assist the tribunal. gb2 is like a family and that is hard to find in a workplace.
Looking back over your career, what has been your proudest achievement?
Using the expert process to get complete agreement on a measured mile disruption analysis on a nuclear power plant in a series of joint statements, with no individual expert report required. My proudest achievement by some margin.
What advice would you give to younger experts hoping to one day be in your position?
Be sure that you love what you do, be organised, look after your team, and be careful what you wish for!