3 FEB 2019
Expert witnesses play a central role in both the judicial and arbitral processes. Their job of providing expertise on technical matters that fall outside the tribunal’s sphere of knowledge ensures judges and arbitrators are informed and able to grasp the technical issues that lie at the heart of most construction disputes.
To make an informed decision, the tribunal needs to understand the specialist subject matter that makes up expert evidence. An expert witness attends expert witness training not to learn more about their specialism but to ensure they understand their role and the importance of their duty to the tribunal, despite who their instructing party may be.
Along with having high levels of technical expertise, instructing parties are increasingly demanding additional proficiency in clear and concise report writing, judicial procedure and courtroom skills from experts. They want subject matter experts who are trained and qualified to act as expert witnesses.
Instructing parties are looking for experts to require higher levels of legal competence, and tribunals require experts to have a strong grasp of rules and protocols for giving evidence.
In the last few years the legal community in this region saw increasing scrutiny when an amendment made in the UAE by the Federal Decree Law No. 7 of 2016, to Federal Penal Code No. 3 of 1987 put spotlight on any ‘arbitrator, expert, translator, or fact-finder’ that issued a decision, expressed an opinion or submitted a report. If what they presented was in contravention of the requirements of the duty of neutrality and integrity, they could be punished by temporary imprisonment.
Late last year the release of an Amendment to the Law (Federal Law 24 of 2018) removed the exposure of arbitrators to criminal liability under the UAE’s Penal Code for failure (or perceived failure) to act with “objectivity and integrity". However, according to HFW, for experts, translators and investigators, criminal liability remains, but in respect of knowingly making a false statement.
The amendment to this law signifies the importance of remaining unbiased to avoid negligence when handling disputes. It also highlights the requirement of an expert witness to stay truthful and honest in their testimony. In addition to remaining unbiased under all circumstances, expert witnesses also need to be highly skilled at writing reports in language that the tribunal will understand.
A maturing market which demands increased productivity and efficiencies, the requirement for skilled professionals continues to rise. To understand the importance of professional development of workforces we spoke to Conrad Bromley, Director HKA, one of the world’s leading providers of advisory, consulting and expert services for the construction, manufacturing, process and technology industries.
HKA put forward numerous employees to take part in the Expert Witness Certificate provided by RICS. This 12-week blended learning course ensures core competencies are developed and is designed to give a sound knowledge of the law and best practice.
The RICS Expert Witness Certificate is precisely the type of training that HKA looks to provide for its staff. For the less experienced or junior members of the team, it is the perfect platform to develop and hone their skills in the expert arena; for the more seasoned expert witness staff, it is the ideal training to reinforce and refresh the core values of an expert witness.
Bromley believes that any individual or firm of individuals that hold themselves out as experts, must be skilled and experienced in their chosen field. However, expertise is not a static concept – it is something that must be worked out continually; it is an ongoing process of continuous improvement.
"Facilitating professional growth and development is a key differentiator for HKA: we encourage all of our staff to undertake training, and the market reacts to this. We are committed to providing the highest quality training to our staff, and that translates to the highest quality of services we deliver to our clients." - Conrad Bromley
The GCC region is fiercely competitive and investing in staff through appropriate training can provide businesses with a unique advantage. Ensuring that the standard of expert witnesses is high will lead to more confidence in the regional arbitration scene. As Bromley pointed out, it is composed of a highly‐skilled professional labour force, which makes the commitment to continuous professional development more critical.
Please note: the location for this course is subject to change.