Charles Gurnham is a thoroughly "experienced and respected" quantum expert known for his superb work on construction disputes.
A Chartered Quantity Surveyor and a Fellow of the RICS, Charles is a founder partner of gb2 with over 35 years’ experience. Charles has been appointed on various complicated engineering disputes, acting for both claimant and defendant/respondent within the High Court, Arbitration and Adjudication process under UK, Uncitral and ICC rules. He has testified in the High Court in London (TCC) and at International Arbitration and several ADR ‘hearings’ (adjudication, mediation and conciliation).
What has been your most interesting construction case to date and why?
Over my 30 years of practice I have worked on a variety of different cases, each in their own way have had interesting qualities. I have found cases which have concerned major highways, process and power installations to be of particular interest. Of those cases, certainly the most sensitive and significant was a major nuclear installation dealing with three enrichment plants, which enable nuclear power stations from around the world to generate electricity.
How does your background as a surveyor enhance your current practice?
I spent my formative years as a surveyor, working for contracting organisations where I became proficient in the procedures and methods of large contracting organisations. I consider these core skills bring added benefit to my forensic examination of large and complicated engineering disputes.
What are the best ways of remaining impartial and independent when providing analysis and testimony?
As a matter of course, one should always properly consider and test the evidence of both parties and its impact on the matters you have been instructed on. If ever you consider deviating from this paradigm, picture yourself being cross-examined on one-sided or slanted opinion.
To what extent will covid-19 inform parties’ behaviour when entering into construction and engineering contracts in the future?
In the immediate term, certain clients are delaying large capital expenditure. Any fall-off in capital expenditure will impact on contracting organisations. As such one would hope that procurement processes and regulatory compliance would become more stringent or developed to counter any cut-throat survival bidding.
Particular care will be needed in the drafting and tendering for contracts, in addressing such matters as: apportionment of risk; site management and safety of operations; supply chain management; programming; notice requirements; termination; and insurance.
Which types of projects are resulting in the most disputes at the moment? Why do you think this is?
I am not sure that there is any particular type. As to reason, there remains the same old chestnut — poor or badly drafted conditions and/or failure by one or more of the parties to understand the terms on which the Contract was let. To this one would add, such matters as inflation, natural disasters and possibly pandemics.
What advice would you give younger experts undertaking their first cross-examination or hot-tubbing proceeding?
To take your time, listen to questions carefully and make sure you know the case inside-out beforehand.
How does gb2 distinguish itself from the competition?
Since we started to trade in 2012, gb2 has developed into a global company, while still retaining its boutique feel. This is an important quality that distinguishes us from the competition. By retaining the boutique feel with give our clients an individual experience. Our size and focus gives us the agility to build a close relationship that delivers clear and honest advice. We believe in working hands-on which is why each commission is led, at all stages, by one of our partners, and supported by a carefully selected team. The tighter the partnership, the more cost-effective the service.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I would like to see gb2 continue to go from strength to strength. I am proud of how far we have come and the team we have built up. It will be interesting to see where we go as a team in the future.
“Charles is a very experienced quantum expert who has the respect of tribunals and stands his ground, without being partisan or unreasonable”
“He is an excellent practitioner”
Charles is a founding member and a senior partner at gb². He is a chartered quantity surveyor and a fellow of the RICS, and has been called to the bar. He has over 35 years of experience advising on engineering and building projects around the world, with considerable experience of projects in buildings, power, process and infrastructure. He specialises in commercial management, quantity surveying, cost engineering, measurement, procurement advice, valuation of works, variations, prolongation, disruption, acceleration and forensic investigations.
Charles has extensive experience on a number of different contract conditions such as FIDIC, IChemE, NEC and ICE, and has worked for clients, contractors and private practice in most sectors of the construction and engineering industry.
Charles has been involved in numerous disputes heard by the TCC in the UK and international arbitration tribunals on projects in many different countries under ICC and UNCITRAL rules in connection with quantum, procurement, valuation, loss and/or expense and the quantification of damages. He has experience of “hot tubbing” and has been instructed by tribunals as a single joint expert on a number of occasions.
Peers say, "Charles is very thorough and shows a real understanding of the principles that are relevant to the case. He is able to clearly and effectively consider the facts and evidence, whilst always looking to maintain his objectivity."
Charles Gurnham has over 30 years of experience in the construction sector, and is widely commended for his expertise in complex and high-value construction claims.