Ask the Expert is a CCi article series where our consultants provide insight into their industry expertise.
Jeffery Whitfield is a Quantum Director based in our Manchester, UK office. He has over 16 years of experience in the construction and engineering industries, and 28 years consulting as a testifying expert witness.
Jeffrey’s experience as a Project Scheduler and Quantity Surveyor places him as an industry leader on Litigation, Arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution matters of quantum and delay.
You recently celebrated 30 years of testifying as an expert witness. What has changed in your 30-year career as a testifying expert?
The answer is both nothing and everything.
In terms of the human element, people are the same now as they were. I have noted, however, that the upcoming generation appear more likely to accept alternate methods of dispute resolution. Something I have been campaigning for since writing my first book in 1994.
In technology everything has moved on. We now need fewer paper files, when we once had an arbitration room stacked with up to 2000 files. We now store everything electronically, testify with our laptops available and often give screen-based presentation before our evidence.
Finally, facts can be checked instantly in the hearing room as the hearing progresses.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new testifying expert?
My key piece of advice is based on a premise we all know, it is easier to remember the truth than a lie. It is this, prepare your report robustly, comprehensively, honestly and independently, and you rob your cross examiner of the bulk of their damaging questions.
You should know your own report and opinion better than anyone else could, no matter how clever or experienced they may appear. So, don’t be awed, answer openly and quickly accept any errors or typos. Tribunals want the truth not a good argument.