By: Luka Dickson

The role of a construction expert witness is to provide a non-partisan opinion during a construction claim legal dispute between two parties. The witness must be able to provide evidence of their expertise in the specific dispute subject for their input to be validated. They must also uphold a code of conduct to ensure they remain unbiased, despite being hired by one side of the dispute. All construction expert witnesses must be qualified quantity surveyors to prove that they have expertise in assessing construction costs for projects. They will assess all the information provided within the legal dispute and organise a comprehensive report that addresses all relevant facts and figures to conclude as to who they believe to be ‘in the right’ regarding the construction claim. This report will then be used as evidence within the court system to come to any judgements.

The rules of a construction claim expert witness report:

When writing an expert report, it is important for Quantity Surveyors to liaise with the construction claim lawyers prior to the writing process – ensuring all questions and issues are thoroughly discussed so that they understand what to include and only focus on relevant topics.

The quantity surveyor should under no circumstances provide a false opinion to support their client. Biasing a side must be avoided within the debate and the facts simply expressed when stating an opinion. It is recommended that fee arrangements for the surveyor should never involve the contingency of the client winning the dispute, if this is arranged, it must be declared within the report.

The Quantity Surveyor must be the one scribing the report, due to the responsibility they will uphold if the matter goes to court. If assistance occurs, this must be flagged within the report, as the assistant writer may be called for evidence during proceedings. The surveyor is solely responsible for the conditions of the final report and must approve of any writings included by additional people.

The report should be written in an easily legible matter for individuals who do not have comprehensive knowledge of construction claims, the building process, or quantity surveying. All calculations generated during the report-writing process should be included.

The content of a construction claim expert witness report:

The construction claims expert witness report is required or recommended to include several key content documents if relevant.

Some key documents included are:

  • The Qualifications and CV of the surveyor
  • The Brief provided to the Quantity Surveyor by the legal team
  • Expert Witness Code
  • A copy of the solicitors’ briefing letter
  • Chronology document
  • All calculations, tests and documents referred to in the report. It is essential for the witness to provide as clear a picture as possible within the scope of the report. All parties are entitled to have access to the documents found within the report.

The report should introduce the details and parties involved in the dispute, referencing, and answering any specific questions that have been brought up by the client or legal team. In a large report, the Quantity Surveyor will include an executive summary to describe the key conclusions ascertained.

Any statements of opinion or assumption must be backed up with all facts referenced to come to that conclusion. The Quantity Surveyor is required to explain any assumptions they made and why they made them. Any facts provided to the Surveyor which appear to be flagrantly incorrect should be disputed and discussed with the solicitor.

The document should describe the expert witness’s opinion and examine all relevant information that helped them arrive at that conclusion. It must be impartial, objective, and specific. It is recommended that the document follow this sequence to help the construction claim parties understand the process.

  • Identify the issues examined
  • Identify key facts and documents
  • Detail inspections & tests conducted
  • Detail any calculations that went into forming the opinion
  • Compare and contrast the Expert Witness opinion with others.
  • Conclusion.

Finally, the document requires a construction claim summary and conclusion. 

Estimating Services in Sydney

At Accent Estimating we provide detailed and reliable budget estimating services for construction projects. Our team of quantity surveyors will speed up your development process and ensure a fair deal for all parties.

If you would like to find out more about our estimating services available in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, call us on 0413 953 869 or fill out the contact form on our website.