Construction & Engineering Update - Spring 2016

    View Authors March 2016

    Instructing experts after Van Oord: reasons to be careful

    Welcome to our client briefing for Spring 2016. In this edition we examine the points to note for clients and expert witnesses (as well as the lawyers who instruct them) arising from the case of Van Oord UK Limited and Sicim Roadbridge Limited v Allseas UK Limited [2015] EWHC 3074. In this case the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) gave an extreme and salutary reminder of the principles governing the appointment of expert witnesses and the experts’ duty to the court.

    Engineering and construction disputes usually involve a significant amount of expert evidence. There might be issues of delay and disruption or technical evidence as to the nature of particular defects. The quality of an appointed expert can make or break a case. This decision gives a harsh lesson about what can happen when the expert is not equipped to perform his duties and the negative impact this can have on a party’s case.

    The decision reinforces our view that experts must be carefully assessed before they are engaged and ideally clients and lawyers should meet with them face to face to assess their credentials, experience and how they may perform before a court or tribunal.