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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

David Atkinson

David Atkinson

HKAOffice 1406, 14th FloorMarina Plaza, Dubai MarinaDubaiUnited Arab EmiratesP.O. Box 31450

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Construction Experts 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

The "excellent" David Atkinson is hailed by sources for his "thoroughness and attention to detail". ​

Questions & Answers

David is a civil engineer with 27 years of large-scale and complex construction project experience, gained while working for both leading design consultants and construction contractors. He regularly advises on planning and programming issues on major projects throughout the Middle East and Africa. David has acted as a planning and delay expert in arbitration proceedings, having provided oral evidence (under cross-examination) and concurrent evidence therein.

Describe your career to date.

I started out as a civil engineering design consultant, primarily carrying out the design of marine structures. Subsequently I worked for a contractor in the planning and supervising of construction works. I then became involved in disputes and have worked for various leading consultancies in this field. My focus has been on assessing the causes of project delay and disruption. I have been fortunate to have been engaged on some extremely large and complex projects throughout my career.

What do clients look for in an effective expert witness?

Mature clients look for an expert who they can trust to show integrity, who can digest information quickly and who comes with a reputation of being able to deliver clear written and oral evidence.  Less mature clients, who have not had prior experience of disputes, may look for someone to support their case. Any apparent misconception as to the role of an expert witness needs to be addressed early.

What types of construction projects do you act as an expert witness for? 

The expertise involved in assessing causes of project delay is applicable to all types of construction projects, hence I have been engaged on a wide variety. This includes high-rise and low-rise buildings for commercial, residential, office and educational use; nuclear and coal-fired and multi-fuel power stations; airports; water infrastructure; roads and bridge infrastructure projects; and various process plants. 

How does your previous experience in the construction industry enhance the expertise you are able to bring to your clients? 

My experience allows me to focus on important issues, and to discard peripheral issues. It allows me to engage with technical team members and to appropriately challenge their opinions, and the information provided to me, as required. This feeds into the quality and robustness of the opinions I provide in my report. 

Since you began practising, have you noticed any methodological changes in the way you conduct your analyses?

Over the last few years, delay analysis has been the subject of close scrutiny in the UK courts, with the independence of experts and the reliability of their conclusions being found wanting in some instances. This has led to a move away from the methods of analysis which are said to produce theoretical results to those producing results that align more closely with the project facts. As a result, delay analysis has become a more descriptive and less programme graphic based subject. Therefore it is highly important that an analyst can communicate the subject matter and opinions in a clear manner that can be readily understood by non-experts.

In what ways are new technologies impacting construction expert practice? 

The advent of time-lapse photography, satellite imagery and 4D computer modelling have all increased the ability of the expert to visualise and convey the nature of the project, and the timing and location of project delay, to clients and tribunals. The development of project cloud storage, video communication tools with screen-sharing functions, and shared access to documents, allows an expert to readily draw on a larger pool of assistants from around the world, broadening the number of commissions that can be progressed concurrently. 

How do you see your practice developing over the next few years?

In the next few years I expect to see a continued growth of practices specialising in delay analysis. Ultimately, I would suggest that only those practices providing the quality required to withstand cross-examination in arbitration and litigation will flourish. Further developments in record keeping and reduced costs of implementing such should assist in reducing the amount of formal disputes, or where disputes prevail, assist in proving the cause and effect of delays. The focus on detailed records of proof will increase.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an expert witness in the construction sector?

Take your time and do not rush to become an expert. Look at other experts in your field, assess their qualities and learn from the good and the bad. Develop your own persona. Challenge opinions and information provided. It always helps to assume that a cross-examining QC may lie in wait to challenge your opinions, no matter the pressures you are under today.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"David is a very efficient team player and knowledgeable on complex issues of delay analysis"
"Extremely easy to work with and has great experience in the field"
"He is highly recommended as a delay expert"
"He has the ability to contribute to strategic advice and has an affable manner which impresses clients and tribunals"

Biography

David is a civil engineer with over 20 years of experience of large scale and complex construction projects. His experience has been gained whilst working for both leading design consultants and construction contractors.

David has a thorough knowledge of the construction process having worked on traditional, design and build and partnering contracts and having represented both the employer and the contractor. He has extensive experience in construction management and programming, with over ten years of experience in performing cause and effect analyses of major delay and disruption claims.

David has worked within the construction industry designing, planning and supervising the construction of major civil engineering works. He has worked across Europe, Middle East, and Africa and has worked on a number of high-profile oil and gas, infrastructure and building disputes.

David regularly advises on planning and programming issues on major projects throughout the Middle East and Africa. He has been appointed as a planning expert on numerous occasions and has provided oral testimony in arbitration proceedings through both traditional cross-examination and concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing).

David is a highly qualified professional with a degree in civil engineering, a master’s in construction law and arbitration, a master’s in maritime civil engineering and an advanced professional award in expert witness evidence (LETAPAEWE). He is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a member of the Chartered Institute of Building and the Society of Construction Law, and a practising member of the Academy of Experts.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

The "excellent" David Atkinson is hailed by sources for his "thoroughness and attention to detail". ​

Biography

David is a civil engineer with over 20 years of experience of large scale and complex construction projects. His experience has been gained whilst working for both leading design consultants and construction contractors.

David has a thorough knowledge of the construction process having worked on traditional, design and build and partnering contracts and having represented both the employer and the contractor. He has extensive experience in construction management and programming, with over ten years of experience in performing cause and effect analyses of major delay and disruption claims.

David has worked within the construction industry designing, planning and supervising the construction of major civil engineering works. He has worked across Europe, Middle East, and Africa and has worked on a number of high-profile oil and gas, infrastructure and building disputes.

David regularly advises on planning and programming issues on major projects throughout the Middle East and Africa. He has been appointed as a planning expert on numerous occasions and has provided oral testimony in arbitration proceedings through both traditional cross-examination and concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing).

David is a highly qualified professional with a degree in civil engineering, a master’s in construction law and arbitration, a master’s in maritime civil engineering and an advanced professional award in expert witness evidence (LETAPAEWE). He is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a member of the Chartered Institute of Building and the Society of Construction Law, and a practising member of the Academy of Experts.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

David Atkinson brings “thoroughness and attention to detail” to his role as a delay analyst for high-value construction projects.

Biography

David is a civil engineer with over 20 years of experience of large scale and complex construction projects. His experience has been gained whilst working for both leading design consultants and construction contractors.

David has a thorough knowledge of the construction process having worked on traditional, design and build and partnering contracts and having represented both the employer and the contractor. He has extensive experience in construction management and programming, with over ten years of experience in performing cause and effect analyses of major delay and disruption claims.

David has worked within the construction industry designing, planning and supervising the construction of major civil engineering works. He has worked across Europe, Middle East, and Africa and has worked on a number of high-profile oil and gas, infrastructure and building disputes.

David regularly advises on planning and programming issues on major projects throughout the Middle East and Africa. He has been appointed as a planning expert on numerous occasions and has provided oral testimony in arbitration proceedings through both traditional cross-examination and concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing).

David is a highly qualified professional with a degree in civil engineering, a master’s in construction law and arbitration, a master’s in maritime civil engineering and an advanced professional award in expert witness evidence (LETAPAEWE). He is also a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a member of the Chartered Institute of Building and the Society of Construction Law, and a practising member of the Academy of Experts.

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