Who's Who Legal
Who's Who Legal
New to Who's Who Legal?
New to Who's Who Legal?
Menu
User Menu
New to Who's Who Legal?
Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Doug Neville

Doug Neville

HKA1 St Colme StreetEdinburghScotlandEH3 6AA
Watch interview with Doug Neville

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Construction Experts 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Doug Neville is lauded for his “thoroughness and clear communication” by sources. An “extremely professional expert witness”, he has superb experience in international infrastructure and energy disputes.

Questions & Answers

Doug Neville is a chartered civil and structural engineer with over 35 years of experience in multidisciplinary engineering consultancy design, from many industry sectors. He qualified as a chartered engineer in 1981 and was a director of leading design consultancies until he joined HKA in 2009. Doug has a master’s degree in law (2012). He is a partner in HKA where he practises as an expert witness and has given evidence in many international arbitrations.
What inspired you to pursue a career as a construction expert witness?
As a director of a consulting engineering practice I was responsible for our annual professional indemnity insurance renewal. I was also the first port of call to respond to any claims against the company. This process gave me an insight into the legal practice of contentious construction. I enjoyed the challenge of explaining complex technical issues to the legal profession in a way that enabled the lawyers to be fully briefed in their responses. Push became shove in 2009 when the financial crash presented me with the opportunity to embark on a new direction based on knowledge gained in my past career.
In what ways has the role of construction expert changed since you started practising?
Whether due to Jones v Kaney or just a natural development, I have noticed an increase in the professionalism of the practice in the construction industry with more companies offering it as a service, as opposed to the previous prevalence of individual practitioners.
How do you prepare for a testifying case?
The run up to an Arbitration hearing can be a very intense period, it is easy to become distracted from the primary purpose of your attendance – to assist the tribunal. Experts are commonly asked to assist in the preparation of questions that counsel will ask the opposing expert. In that respect you can easily focus too much on what your opposing expert says rather than your own opinions. In my experience, the best form of preparation is to read and re-read your own reports and become familiar with all of the documents you rely on. Then you focus on your own work, will be better able to answer questions on your report, and be able to quickly refer to where the tribunal may find your opinions, explanations and references.
What challenges does covid-19 pose to cross-examinations, and how do you tackle them?
Most significantly, in lockdown, it is not possible to hold hearings in person. Several of my colleagues have experienced remote hearings, which has shown me that, with appropriate IT in place, it is possible to conduct hearings remotely. There appear to be two challenges concerning cross-examination. Firstly, there is the prospect of the witness or expert either deliberately or inadvertently receiving coaching during cross-examination. Secondly, there is the loss of just “being in the room” that is so important when giving evidence. I envisage that when I eventually face a remote hearing, I will have to make more effort to ensure that the tribunal have understood my answers, whereas being in the room that can often be gauged by eye contact and body language.
In what ways is digitisation impacting construction expert practice? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of these new technologies?
Quite simply, the sheer volume of data that can be made available. In the past I received many instructions on which I was supplied with volumes of lever arch files. Recently, it has become common to be given access to an extranet site in which the data around the dispute is held. Although the information in the lever arches was often extensive, the extranet sites can contain vastly more information. Extranets make it possible to ensure that all parties are working from the same data-set, something that the use of hard copy did not always achieve. The principal benefit of extranets is also its principal drawback, the volume of data. Whilst it is always good to have access to data it is not always possible to view it all.
In what ways does HKA distinguish itself from competition in the market?
HKA distinguishes itself in the market through the extent and depth of its expertise across all of the primary causes of disputes in the construction industry: Quantum, Delay, Damages and Engineering. HKA’s Engineering offering is extensive, ranging from Architecture, Structures, Civil Engineering, Building Services and many related specialisms.
What advice would you give to younger experts hoping to one day be in your position?
While I take responsibility for their work, I often make use of technical assistants. This is an ideal opportunity for potential experts to learn the ropes and see first-hand how an expert works and the landscape of dispute resolution. There are also many training opportunities for prospective experts covering tasks ranging from report writing to cross-examination and court familiarisation. My advice would be to look for an opportunity to act as an assistant to an expert, sign up for training, and try to get an appointment in an adjudication.
Where, in your opinion, does the future of the practice area lie?
As the practice develops it will become more professionalised. This is in part due to the need for experts to behave in accordance with defined rules, something that the lay or occasional expert may not be familiar with. I think that tribunals will increasingly request more direct contact with experts. Whilst cross-examination is beneficial in testing evidence, in my view, it does not always result in clarity to the tribunal. More inquisitorial techniques, such as hot-tubbing, are likely to be insisted on by tribunals, to allow them to ask questions directly and gain a better understanding of the issues than would be revealed through cross-examination.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Doug Neville is lauded for his “thoroughness and clear communication” by sources. An “extremely professional expert witness”, he has superb experience in international infrastructure and energy disputes.

Biography

Doug is a chartered civil and structural engineer with over 35 years of experience in multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy design. He has acted as technical expert on over 25 occasions.

Doug qualified as a chartered engineer in 1981 and worked with leading engineering design consultancies for almost three decades. He completed a master’s in construction law in 2012 and has worked across the globe on projects ranging from buildings and infrastructure to power, industrial and oil and gas.

Doug is mainly involved with the provision on advisory and expert services relating to technical construction disputes. His specialisms include forensic civil and structural engineering, professional competence and standard of care, and project procurement and performance.

Doug has been cross-examined in many international arbitrations, including participation in concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing) and in several adjudications. He works closely with lawyers and QCs regarding dispute resolution matters and utilises his knowledge of what can go wrong on a construction project, to advise on contract formation and dispute avoidance.

Doug produces articles and delivers seminars on the role of a technical expert, the role of the engineer and related considerations. Alongside his varied engineering qualifications and fellowships, he is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a practising member of the Academy of Experts. Clients and colleagues agree that Doug is “knowledgeable, thorough and reliable”.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Doug Neville excels in his capacity as a construction expert, bringing a "logical thought process" to all aspects of his work.

Biography

Doug is a chartered civil and structural engineer with over 35 years of experience in multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy design. He has acted as a technical expert on over 25 occasions.

Doug qualified as a chartered engineer in 1981 and worked with leading engineering design consultancies for almost three decades. He has a comprehensive understanding of civil and structural engineering design and construction, gained through experience in many industry sectors ranging from buildings and infrastructure to power, industrial and oil and gas. He completed a master's in construction law in 2012.

As a practicing expert witness in civil and structural engineering, Doug is mainly involved with the provision of advisory and expert services in connection with construction industry dispute resolution. His specialisms include forensic civil and structural engineering, professional competence and standard of care, and project procurement and performance.

Doug has been cross-examined in many international arbitrations, including participation in concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing) and in several adjudications.

Doug authors articles and delivers seminars on the role of a technical expert, the role of the engineer and the practice of hot-tubbing. Doug is a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Structural Engineers. He is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a practising member of the Academy of Experts.

Doug was formerly a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers' (ICE) structures expert panel and a member of the editorial board of the ICE’s Forensic Engineering Journal. Doug has also been recognised by Who’s Who Legal as a Thought Leader in Construction.

Clients and colleagues agree that Doug is "knowledgeable, thorough and reliable".

Law Business Research
Law Business Research Ltd
Meridian House, 34-35 Farringdon Street
London EC4A 4HL, UK
© Law Business Research Ltd 1998-2020. All rights reserved.
Company No.: 03281866