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James Nicholson

James Nicholson

FTI Consulting8 Shenton Way#32-03 AXA TowerSingapore068811
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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

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.

James Nicholson has an academic background in economics and public policy, and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. He worked as an economic journalist and a strategy consultant before joining the FTI team. He moved to Paris in 2007 to develop the firm’s international arbitration (IA) activity, and now runs a thriving team of 22. He is active in disputes expert witness work and energy industry consulting, and plays a role in running FTI’s global IA practice.

What inspired you to pursue a career as an expert witness?

I was attracted to consulting generally by the opportunity to use analytic thinking (which I always enjoyed) to make a difference in the world, and to work with smart and highly motivated people. I gravitated towards expert witness work in international arbitration over time as it was (and still is) a fast-growing field with many fundamental questions to resolve. My sense of justice extends to wanting tribunals to make good decisions on damages. I like working with lawyers as clients, and I like a good (rational) argument.

What did you find most challenging about starting out in the field? How did you overcome these challenges?

As in most professional services careers, there’s a phase before the partner level where you’ve having to achieve mastery in many skills at once – problem-solving, report-writing, client management at various levels via written and oral communications, team management, the dull administrative things. That was an exciting but exhausting period.

What do you enjoy most about working as an expert witness?

The hearings, where it all comes together; and, winning a big new piece of work.

How has the market changed since you started practising?

The sophistication of all involved in handling damage quantification issues, and in managing the IA process more generally, has increased enormously. When I started in the mid-2000s, few clients and only some of the legal teams we worked with were comfortable with the damages issues that came up on a large dispute. Today the level of sophistication at many law firms and a good number of clients is much higher. This must be due to the massive collective accumulation of experience – in consulting-speak the industry has “moved down the experience curve” – and the increased focus among counsel and arbitrations on the importance of damages issues over the past dozen years.

How is third-party funding influencing the arbitration market?

It has placed more emphasis on the lens on arbitration as an investment by a party that expects a financial return. This has pushed the expert industry (at least) towards different charging structures, which is a normal business evolution. It also sometimes leads to pressure on counsel and experts to produce damages claims that are higher but less robust than they could and sometimes should be, which is a less healthy development in my view.

What has been the most memorable case of your career to date, and why?

I was damages valuation expert for EMG and its shareholders in four parallel cases relating to the sale of gas through a pipeline from Egypt to Israel. Any one of those cases would have been a standout in itself, but arguing many of the same issues before four different tribunals was a real eye-opener in terms of how different the tribunals were, and how much deeper into the issues we all were by the fourth hearing compared to the first.

How has the nature of the relationship between lawyers and expert witnesses developed since you started your career?

We typically get a much deeper review of our draft reports by lawyers today than a dozen years ago, and often get comments that show a degree of insight into economics and finance as well as the facts and the law. When I started in this field, more often the approach was much more hands-off. This evolution improves the damages expert output in my view, even if the input from the legal team is sometimes intended to push our conclusions in one direction or another.

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

One of the real strengths of FTI’s arbitration team (and often remarked upon by our clients) is its depth. This means we know already the next generation of FTI experts, who I expect to establish themselves firmly in the next five years, in our offices across EMEA, APAC and North America. I also expect to see more industry specialisation (or quasi-specialisation), and greater use of industry experts alongside general damages experts.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

Arbitration Expert Witnesses 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

The “superb” James Nicholson ranks as an elite arbitration expert witness. Peers and clients impart that “his forensic valuation skills are second to none", and note that he has "a calm manner under pressure”.

Biography

James Nicholson founded and leads FTI Consulting's 20-strong Paris disputes team, coordinates the firm's international arbitration practice in the EMEA region, and is a member of the firm's EMEA leadership team. James is a CFA charterholder and holds degrees in economics and public policy; his work primarily involves issues of the identification and valuation of lost profits, and the valuation of businesses, financial assets including shareholdings and other assets, and wasted costs.

James has testified before commercial and investment treaty tribunals on over 25 occasions. Parallel ICC and CRCICA tribunals recently awarded a claimant a total $1.3 billion based on the damages testimony of James and a colleague. James' practice is global, but much of his recent work has involved parties from the MENA region and/or francophone countries.

James is president of the standing committee of the ICC's International Centre for ADR, which advises the Centre in the application of the ICC's expert rules.

James is a frequent presenter at industry conferences, often presents to law firms on damages and expert issues, and has acted as an expert witness at advocacy workshops organised by the Foundation for International Arbitration Advocacy (FIAA), the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and a number of individual law firms. James holds a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, where he was a Fulbright scholar and focused his studies on business, government, and finance. James was awarded first-class honours in his BA from Oxford University in philosophy, politics, and economics.

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

The “excellent” James Nicholson brings “clarity of thought and presentation” to his work, while being “highly efficient and a pleasure to work with”. He is renowned for giving expert testimony in commercial and investment treaty tribunals for disputes across the media and energy sectors.

Biography

James Nicholson founded and leads FTI Consulting's 20-strong Paris disputes team, coordinates the firm's international arbitration practice in the EMEA region, and is a member of the firm's EMEA leadership team. James is a CFA charterholder and holds degrees in economics and public policy; his work primarily involves issues of the identification and valuation of lost profits, and the valuation of businesses, financial assets including shareholdings and other assets, and wasted costs.

James has testified before commercial and investment treaty tribunals on 30 occasions. Parallel ICC and CRCICA tribunals recently awarded a claimant a total US$1.3 billion based on the damages testimony of James and a colleague. James' practice is global, but much of his recent work has involved parties from the MENA region, Asia and/or francophone countries.

James is president of the standing committee of the ICC's International Centre for ADR, which advises the Centre in the application of the ICC's expert rules.

James is a frequent presenter at industry conferences, often presents to law firms on damages and expert issues, and has acted as an expert witness at advocacy workshops organised by the Foundation for International Arbitration Advocacy (FIAA), the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) and a number of individual law firms. James holds a master's degree in public policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, where he was a Fulbright scholar and focused his studies on business, government, and finance. James was awarded first-class honours in his BA from Oxford University in philosophy, politics, and economics.

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