Great expectations

1st December 2020


Who commences a formal dispute without either great expectations or great experts? 

It is best to have both if you can possibly help it.

Unfortunately, on occasion, either one or both fail to materialise. This series of articles explores the issues that are encountered when that happens.


Experts are usually instructed by clients or their legal professionals, dependant on the nature and forum for the dispute. As well as reflecting on my own experiences, I have informally interviewed more than a dozen lawyers, clients and other experts to hear their tales of woe on expert commissions.

I catalogued some of the most common issues faced and made some suggestions on how to avoid or reduce their effects in an attempt to improve the expert experience for all.

Although many of the people interviewed work in the construction industry, some of the feedback related to experts from other industries as well, albeit the same principles still apply.

As the information I have amassed is too voluminous for one article, the issues will be discussed over a series of three articles:

Article One: Client and Lawyer Issues, will look at the most common issues faced by clients and lawyers who instruct experts. These are:

ǁ Fees ǁ Costs ǁ Delay ǁ Honesty ǁ Communication ǁ Writing Style ǁ Accountability ǁ

Article Two: Expert Issues, will look at the most common issues experts face. These are:

ǁ Information ǁ Sensitivity ǁ Timeframes ǁ Delays ǁ Scope Creep ǁ Communication ǁ Technology ǁ

Article Three: Solutions, provides some suggestions on how the issues raised in the first two articles can be alleviated or resolved.


If you speak to a client or a lawyer they will tell you ‘expert management is key.’

If you speak to an expert you will hear ‘client management is key.’

It must be the case that we are all in need of a little management.

Many thanks to all my interviewees, who provided many entertaining anecdotes and comments. Whilst some wish to remain anonymous, the following contributors were not quite as shy:

  • Helen Andrews, Fieldfisher LLP;
  • Natalie Bradshaw, Bell Lax Solicitors;
  • Chris Faulkner, JANC Consulting Limited;
  • Mills & Reeve LLP
  • Peter McHugh, Clarke Wilmott LLP;
  • Paul Roberts, Secretariat; and
  • Many of my HKA colleagues, but particularly Andrew White and Emyr Evans.

I am very grateful to everyone for their assistance.

And after stealing his title, I must allow Mr Dickens the last word:

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.”

 Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Who commences a formal dispute without either great expectations or great experts? is best to have both if you can possibly help it.”
Rhiann Storey, Associate Director, HKA

This publication presents the views, thoughts or opinions of the author and not necessarily those of HKA. Whilst we take every care to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time of publication, the content is not intended to deal with all aspects of the subject referred to, should not be relied upon and does not constitute advice of any kind. This publication is protected by copyright © 2024 HKA Global Ltd.


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