Peers and clients say:
“Mike is very experienced in court appearances, as well as producing quality expert reports”
“He is thorough and hardworking, with great attention to detail”
“He is able to navigate through complex issues and boil them down to key points”
Mike is a chartered quantity surveyor who has over 35 years of experience in the industry and has worked internationally for many years, with the last 20 years being based full-time in Hong Kong. He has extensive experience in procurement and contract strategy, dispute resolution and providing strategic advice to clients on distressed or problem projects. He acts as quantum expert witness on a number of construction disputes, for both claimant and respondent, working with major firms of solicitors and barristers. He has given evidence in the High Court twice, and in domestic and international arbitrations 26 times and is a CEDR accredited mediator.
What attracted you to relocate your career to Hong Kong?
The firm, in which I was a partner at the time, invited me to take up a leadership position in the Hong Kong office, having region-wide responsibility. Having started from a position of limited understanding and following an orientation visit, I quickly became aware of the culturally diverse and vibrant market and economy that Hong Kong represented. The professional marketplace acts as a hub and centre of excellence for the regional markets, as well as having the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, which is a world-leading arbitral institution. In addition to this it also presented my family and I with a wonderful opportunity to gain and be exposed to a unique cultural experience, which has provided a range of life-changing perspectives and experiences.
How has being a fellow at various professional bodies shaped your practice?
This in my view is one of the most humbling recognitions to receive by the professional body you are associated with. To have this bestowed upon you places not only a recognition that you have reached a certain level of experience and standing within your industry but also places a level of trust and faith in you to act as a role model and champion to the aspiring young professionals within that respective body. It also means and requires that you give back to the body, in a way that helps further enhance the body and at the same time mentors and develops the next generation of professionals.
What are the advantages of arbitration compared to other forms of dispute resolution in construction and engineering disputes?
Arbitration being recognised as a final means of resolving your dispute does have various well recognised benefits, but also has the ability to have a tribunal in place that has the required and appropriate level of technical industry expertise. In recent times arbitration has also proved to be very adaptable in the manner in which the timetable and process has flexed around the challenges presented by covid-19 and the respective limitations.
How has the dynamic between arbitral tribunals and experts changed over the years?
In more recent times as an expert I have found that there has been a gradual shift for tribunals and experts to work more actively together. This being in the context that experts are being required to demonstrate and discharge their duties to assist the tribunal, which in my experience is a positive step both for the arbitration process and also in assisting the tribunals.
What are some common pitfalls when preparing an expert analysis?
The pitfalls are case and fact sensitive, but at a general level it is not uncommon for experts to address limited instructions, or only one parties’ case. This can provide substantial limitations and assistance to the tribunal, which can compromise an expert’s evidence and the opinions placed before the tribunal. Ultimately whilst being of limited assistance to the tribunal, it does also mean there is limited value for the party instructing that expert.
Sources have remarked a succession issue is down the pipeline for the APAC region (i.e. a shortage of experts in the region can be expected). To what extent do you agree with this view?
I am not aware that the succession of experts is an issue more acute in APAC, than any other region. I can only speak for my own firm in relation to succession, and we have an active program of mentoring and developing our next wave of experts, such that we take the time to invest and develop our people, so that they may progress their own careers in the direction of their choice. If that is to become an expert, then that opportunity will be presented to them, and I am pleased to see each year within our firm that a key annual KPI is how many experts in the year have given evidence for the first time.
How can up-and-coming experts engage themselves in projects at different levels of the supply chain?
This will be a product of opportunity and active market dynamics, albeit being able to work at different levels of the supply chain is a key ingredient in gathering and gaining experience. This is as much a requirement of the up-and-coming expert as it is the firm helping and assisting that expert with being able to obtain the opportunities at this level. This can require a positive strategy to attract this type of work, which I am pleased to say we also actively deploy at our firm.
What is the best piece of advice you can offer to others?
To strive and stay focussed upon client needs, as well as to always be fully committed to continuous improvement in everything that you do, along with a willingness to ask questions and listen.