Mike Allen
Office:
Level 35, Oxford House
Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road
Quarry Bay
City:
Hong Kong
Country:
Hong Kong
Tel:
+852 3768 4673
Fax:
+852 2263 7399

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders Global Elite

The views expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, Inc, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.

Mike is a chartered quantity surveyor who has over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry and has worked internationally for many years; for the past 15 years, he has been based full-time in Hong Kong. He has extensive experience in procurement and contract strategy; dispute resolution; and providing strategic advice to clients on distressed or problem projects. He acts as a quantum expert witness on a number of construction and engineering disputes, for both claimants and respondents, working with major firms of solicitors and barristers. He has given evidence in the High Court twice, and in domestic and international arbitrations 17 times. He is a CEDR-accredited mediator.

Describe your career to date.

From a solid base of practical experience on projects, I have been advising clients for over 30 years on disputes and problem projects. The appointments tend to be a mix of expert witness, strategic adviser and mediator; in the substantive proportion, I am acting as a damages expert in international arbitration. My experience covers the building, civil engineering, process, and oil and gas sectors on both domestic and international arbitrations in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Australia. In being appointed in many different jurisdictions, I have developed a broad range of understanding in a variety of differing procedural approaches. Finally, I am often instructed equally by claiming and responding parties, which I believe maintains a healthy balance and approach in viewing and considering matters from different perspectives.

What do you enjoy most about working on quantum of damages matters?

No two commissions are the same, which means that each commission has to be approached with an approach that is fresh, objective and analytical. When you combine this with a range of sectors and different jurisdictions means that there is plenty of healthy variety in my daily work. This means that I am given the freedom within the boundaries of my instructions to apply my experience and expertise to some challenging and complex disputes.

How is the use of data affecting the construction sector at the moment? What issues does it cause in your work?

The scale of the disputes that I am typically instructed on means that I am frequently faced with matters that have many terabytes of data, which can encompass millions of different individual documents. This means that being able to process the data, to know where to focus an investigation, and to be proportionate in the time and cost of reviewing is of utmost importance. Data analysis techniques, and sampling and coding mechanisms are now an important part of an expert’s toolbox of skills.

What developments are you seeing in alternative forms of dispute resolution in the area?

Alternative dispute resolution is a critical aspect of the dispute resolution suite of options. Established and responsible parties wishing to take control of the process are always looking for new and innovative ways to resolve matters. This means that we are not necessarily seeing completely new forms, but we are seeing some new and interesting hybrids that appear to be blending the role of an expert, with that of a mediator. New ideas should be encouraged as we continue to evolve and enable parties to innovate and adapt to a changing environment and market, while we speedily and cost-effectively resolve their differences.

As senior managing director of the firm’s forensic and litigation consulting team, what are your main priorities for the group’s development over the next few years?

We will continue to focus on our clients, our people and our service excellence. In order to do this, we need to seek and drive performance excellence in each one of these areas. Client empathy and understanding their needs only comes from a continued and sustainable commitment to our clients’ best interests at all times. Developing our team’s skills, and creating the culture and environment for this to happen, is a key part of what we do on a daily basis. Training and development is part of our way of working, and becomes part of an active succession-planning pathway. Service excellence means always expecting and delivering in accordance with the very highest standards, as well as measuring and striving for continuous improvement.

How has the role of a quantum expert changed since you started your career?

The matters have changed: instead of working on a commission where you could do all the work yourself, now the scale and complexity of cases require large teams with a range of skillsets. This not only means that there are a range of workstreams and deliverables to manage, but the expert is also required to maintain proximity to the work and analysis on an ongoing basis. There is also now, on a frequently occurring basis, the need to introduce experts from different disciplines to assist with damage commissions, which can typically include forensic accountants. This appears to be a recurring theme where damages claims are based on a breach of contract, and also as alternative claims linked to business interruption and performance.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

It has been to see the growth and development of a number of team members whom I have had the pleasure of working with around the world over the last 30 years.

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

To strive and stay focused on client needs, as well as to always be fully committed to continuous improvement in everything that you do.

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Construction

The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, Inc, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.

Mike is a chartered quantity surveyor who has over 30 years’ experience in the industry and has worked internationally for many years, being based full-time in Hong Kong for the past 15 years. He has extensive experience in procurement and contract strategy, dispute resolution and providing strategic advice to clients on distressed or problem projects. He acts a quantum expert witness on a number of construction disputes, for both claimant and respondent, working with major firms of solicitors and barristers. He has given evidence in the High Court twice, and in domestic and international arbitrations 17 times and is a CEDR-accredited mediator.

What attracted you to a career in the construction industry?

It was a combination of factors, as I first undertook a foundation course in building. This ranged in exposure to welding, bricklaying, carpentry and also the engineering/surveying side of the industry. Along with this I also gained some experience early on working for a contractor, who gave me experience in each of their different business units, and this heavily influenced a desire to play a role in helping create our built environment.

What did you find most challenging about entering the construction consultancy field?

There are many, but the most challenging thing I find is that every project has its own unique features, and so there cannot be a “cookie cutter” approach. This in itself, therefore, creates unique challenges that need to be faced down each time, on each individual project. Yes sure, there are some standard or typical aspects to look for, but there most definitely is not one standard response.

What do clients look for in an effective litigation consultant?

Different clients do have varying objectives, and so there are a range of client needs. However, they would include some or all of the following. Consultants will need to be able to quickly strategise with the client and legal team, so that they can quickly identify the key issues and how best to deal with those issues, as well as identify the range of options. Clients like to see, hear and feel that their consultants have a clear plan and sense of direction in relation to the strategy, as well as provide updates on progress. Consultants also need to be flexible, as the strategy and plan will quite often be developed with evolving information, and so an ability to adapt to changing information is also required. Using the best available information and being proportionate in the time and costs of undertaking any analysis, and also not waiting for perfect information before advising a client is also an important feature.

Ultimately it’s about listening to the client needs, being an integral and valued team player, as well as embracing some or all of the above features.

How has the market changed since you started your career?

Construction projects appear to now be much larger and it is common practice for multiple projects to be aggregated into mini programmes of work, and quite often let as one project. Whole or substantial risk transfer to contractors is a continuingly progressive theme. In the dispute environment, it was rare, four to five years ago, for disputes to be 100 per cent of the contract sum, but nowadays it is very common for this to be the case, such that sums in dispute of US$1 billion or greater are a very common feature within international arbitrations.

What industries do you focus on? What are the main reasons at the moment for driving factors behind disputes arising in these markets?

There is no particular industry focus, other than to say generally construction or engineering, albeit with the cycle of corporate and government spending programmes – this does perhaps see a wave of particular industry disputes. By way of example with South East Asia and some countries in the Middle East, there are some major infrastructure and transport-related disputes, which are reflective of the historic programme initiatives five to 10 years ago. Also, we seem to have a number of energy and mining-related disputes in Australia, which perhaps are a by-product of their complexity, programme initiatives and also changing energy prices, which have perhaps influenced some of the corporate business case dynamics.

What kind of impact are recent changes to turnkey contracts having on the construction field?

EPC and turnkey contracts do pass off significant risk and responsibility to the contractors, and the general approach also presupposes that employers will leave the contractors to deliver the turnkey approach. Because of complexity and other interrelated dynamics, that means problems do and can occur if there is a change to that dynamic.

How does FTI Consulting stay competitive in the market?

In short, a clear focus on client needs, maintaining our service standards to deliver to this client need, training and developing our people, and finally making sure that we listen and learn from our clients, their advisers and ourselves to continue to drive performance improvement.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners interested in working in this field?

To gain as much practical experience as you can, as early as you can. Make sure you are part of a learning and development programme that is real and not part of a tick-box process. Seek active and hands-on mentoring from the seniors within your company on a regular basis, and particularly focus those discussions on learning opportunities around problems or challenging projects.

Seek, and be willing to receive, active feedback. Above all else be willing to invest the time and effort into your own career, so that if you seek support from others the equation should be a 90–10 dynamic with you investing the 90 per cent!

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Expert Witnesses

Mike is a chartered quantity surveyor who has over 30 years’ experience in the industry and has worked internationally for many years, with the last 13 years being based full time in Hong Kong.  He has extensive experience in procurement and contract strategy, dispute resolution and providing strategic advice to clients on distressed or problem projects.

Mike continues to work on numerous disputes and live projects for employers, contractors and subcontractors.  He provides contract advice, has prepared claims and rebuttals, assisted in negotiations and appeared in many different tribunals.

Mike is experienced in a wide range of civil engineering, building, M&E and process plant contracts, which include the ICE 6th edition, Engineering Construction Contract (NEC), I Chem E Red and Green Book, G90, JCT, GC Works and Sub Contract Forms, which also includes bespoke, simple and situations of no written contract. He also has extensive experience of FIDIC and various standard and ad hoc forms of contract in various countries in Europe, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, PRC and Australia.

Mike has also worked on a variety of matters which include building, civil engineering, mining, infrastructure, LNG facilities, marine civil engineering and process works. This has been in both a project-related and arbitration environment, where the work has involved the analysis of large amounts of data to produce independent valuations related to a range of claims including delay and disruption, prolongation and variations.

Mike has also been involved in a large number of ground, excavation, mining and reclamation works, as well as rail infrastructure and systems projects. He has been appointed as a quantum expert witness on a number of construction disputes, acting for both claimant and respondent, working with major firms of solicitors and barristers.  He has given evidence in the High Court twice and in domestic and international arbitrations on 17 occasions, as well as in various mediations and conciliations. 

Mike is also a CEDR-accredited mediator.

WWL says: Mike Allen is a well-known figure in the market with peers praising him as “a personable and top-class expert”, particularly on matters pertaining to the construction sector.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Arbitration which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Consulting Experts: Experts - Construction - Quantum & Delay

Mike is a chartered quantity surveyor who has over 30 years' experience in the industry and has worked internationally for many years, with the last 15 years being based full-time in Hong Kong. He has extensive experience in procurement and contract strategy, dispute resolution and providing strategic advice to clients on distressed or problem projects.

Mike works on numerous disputes and live projects for employers, contractors and subcontractors. He provides contract advice, has prepared claims and rebuttals, assisted in negotiations and appeared in many different tribunals. Mike is experienced in a wide range of civil engineering, building, M&E and process plant contracts, including the ICE 6th edition, Engineering Construction Contract (NEC), I Chem E Red and Green Book, G90, JCT, GC Works and Sub Contract Forms, which also includes bespoke, simple and situations of no written contract. He also has extensive experience of FIDIC and various standard and ad hoc forms of contract in various countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australasia.

Mike’s experience includes building, civil engineering, mining, infrastructure, LNG facilities, marine civil engineering and process works. This has been in both project-related and arbitration environments, where the work has involved the analysis of large amounts of data to produce independent valuations related to a range of claims including delay and disruption, prolongation and variations.

Mike has been appointed as a quantum expert witness on a number of construction disputes, acting for both claimant and respondent, working with major firms of solicitors and barristers. He has given evidence in the High Court twice, and in domestic and international arbitrations 15 times.

Mike is also a CEDR-accredited mediator.

WWL says: Mike Allen is known for his “very impressive experience” in quantum and delay-related matters. He has over three decades of experience in the construction industry and is regularly engaged to advise on major projects.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Consulting Experts which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Consulting Experts: Experts - Financial Advisory and Valuation - Quantum of Damages

Mike is a chartered quantity surveyor who has over 30 years' experience in the industry and has worked internationally for many years, with the last 15 years being based full-time in Hong Kong. He has extensive experience in procurement and contract strategy, dispute resolution and providing strategic advice to clients on distressed or problem projects.

Mike works on numerous disputes and live projects for employers, contractors and subcontractors. He provides contract advice, has prepared claims and rebuttals, assisted in negotiations and appeared in many different tribunals. Mike is experienced in a wide range of civil engineering, building, M&E and process plant contracts, including the ICE 6th edition, Engineering Construction Contract (NEC), I Chem E Red and Green Book, G90, JCT, GC Works and Sub Contract Forms, which also includes bespoke, simple and situations of no written contract. He also has extensive experience of FIDIC and various standard and ad hoc forms of contract in various countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australasia.

Mike’s experience includes building, civil engineering, mining, infrastructure, LNG facilities, marine civil engineering and process works. This has been in both project-related and arbitration environments, where the work has involved the analysis of large amounts of data to produce independent valuations related to a range of claims including delay and disruption, prolongation and variations.

Mike has been appointed as a quantum expert witness on a number of construction disputes, acting for both claimant and respondent, working with major firms of solicitors and barristers. He has given evidence in the High Court twice, and in domestic and international arbitrations 15 times.

Mike is also a CEDR-accredited mediator.

WWL says: Mike Allen is “an exceedingly thorough and diligent expert” who is “cool under pressure and excellent in the witness box”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Consulting Experts which can be purchased from our Shop.

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