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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Liam Holder

Liam Holder

SecretariatProvidian House2nd Floor16-18 Monument StreetLondonEnglandEC3R 8AJ

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Liam Holder is a “leading expert in quantum” who “performs very well” in evaluating complex construction claims.

Questions & Answers

As a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor (FRICS) with 30 years’ experience on major international construction and engineering projects, Liam Holder’s project involvement spans many sectors and geographies, including the UK, mainland Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. He specialises in the valuation of complex claims involving aspects such as valuation and measurement, delay, disruption, variations, defective works and termination claims, and he is regularly appointed as quantum expert on large international projects.

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

I enjoy dealing with complex issues on major international construction projects and assisting clients and counsel to understand the challenges that need to be met to satisfy the scrutiny of experienced tribunals. I also enjoy the fact that my work over the last 30 years has allowed me the privilege of travelling widely and meeting so many interesting people.

In your experience, what impact does a more interventionalist approach from tribunals have on independent expert work?  

Tribunals are becoming much more interventionalist, which in my view is a positive development. Independent experts always owe a duty to the tribunal, but tribunals seem to be taking more ‘ownership’ of the parties’ experts, to ensure the experts really do appreciate that their duty is to the tribunal. The experts are directed and encouraged by the tribunal to achieve as much agreement as possible, which of course is what experts should be doing in any event to assist the tribunal. That work does not stop before the hearing and in my recent experience, the experts were called before the tribunal on a daily basis after sitting hours during the hearing, to report progress and to ensure as much agreement as possible was achieved prior to giving evidence. In my opinion, this approach is hugely beneficial to the efficient running of the case and focuses the mind of even the most recalcitrant expert.

How has covid-19 impacted your work and construction disputes more broadly? 

Technology has prevailed and virtual meetings are now commonplace, with travel all but eliminated. That has enabled more work to be done and more client meetings to be convened in shorter periods of time. That can be a good thing, but it is important to leave space for preparation and reflection between meetings on different cases.

To what extent can virtual hearings be relied on to decide high-stakes cases between parties? How much of the arbitration process do you envision becoming virtually oriented in the near future?

The biggest impact of covid-19 on my work and on construction disputes generally has been the advent of virtual hearings. I have been involved in a number of virtual hearings caused by covid-19 in recent months. They were extremely efficient and well managed by experienced tribunals. In a post-covid-19 world, the cost and time savings of virtual hearings might well encourage parties and tribunals to factor their use into future considerations for dispute resolution. 

How are technological developments currently affecting the practice of quantum analysis?

No one technological development stands out as affecting quantum analysis. However, I think the biggest impact in recent years has been the sheer volume of electronic data available on large projects. Gone are the days when as an expert you were presented with hard copy lever arch files of information. Now we are presented with substantial amounts of data on shared drives, all of which needs to be analysed and reviewed.

What makes Secretariat International stand out from its competitors in the market?

Experience above all. We have a hugely experienced team of experts at Secretariat, all of whom are focused on delivering quality work and in helping the next generation of experts to achieve their ambitions.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Receiving recognition as a Thought Leader in WWL Global Elite is of course a high point. The question is interesting, because my work as an independent expert is not really measured in terms of success and achievement, but in trust, integrity and reliability. My greatest achievement is really that clients and counsel continue to appoint me as their quantum expert to assist them with their most difficult and complex business issues, trusting me to give independent evidence to hugely experienced international tribunals. On a personal level, achieving my professional qualifications is obviously something of which I am proud.

What advice would you give younger practitioners undertaking their first cross-examination or hot-tubbing proceeding?

Be prepared, be calm, be measured, be professional and remember, your sole duty is to assist the tribunal.

Thought Leaders - Construction Experts 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Liam Holder is hailed “the best quantum expert out there” and a consistent “leader in his field”.​

Questions & Answers

As a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor (FRICS) with 30 years’ experience on major international construction and engineering projects, Liam Holder’s project involvement spans many sectors and geographies, including the UK, mainland Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. He specialises in the valuation of complex claims involving aspects such as valuation and measurement, delay, disruption, variations, defective works and termination claims, and he is regularly appointed as quantum expert on large international projects.
Describe your career to date.
My career to date has been interesting, varied and challenging. I started working for Contractors in the late 1980s before moving into Consultancy and working internationally in the mid-late 1990s. Whilst working in Hong Kong in 1996 I became involved in a major dispute on the Power Station project I was working on (Employer-side). I worked very closely with Counsel and really enjoyed the formal dispute resolution process, so much so that I returned to the UK to specialise in that work and undertook a part time MSc degree course in Construction Law & Arbitration at King’s College, London, which I completed in 2000. So, for the past 20 years my focus has been entirely in the dispute resolution arena, predominately acting as expert witness and occasionally as a Tribunal myself.
I spent a significant proportion of my career managing large teams of people internationally before starting my own practice, which was acquired by a large international consultancy in 2012. After six years I joined Secretariat, as I knew the company very well and would be working with friends in an environment where I am able to focus on the work itself and deliver (I hope) a high-quality product to the clients and lawyers who instruct me.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role as a construction expert?
Whilst giving evidence and being cross-examined by leading Counsel is obviously a very challenging experience, I personally think the joint engagement process with other experts is a very challenging and extremely important aspect of the role. It requires an ability to build a relationship with your counterpart in circumstances where there are pressures from clients and Counsel, as well as often demanding deadlines from the Tribunal.
It is however a critical process as independent experts should be doing everything possible to narrow and/or clearly explain differences, to assist the Tribunal. In my experience, Tribunals are becoming much more interventionalist and demanding experts engage to achieve this. That, in my opinion, is a very good thing.
How has the construction market changed since you first started practising?
I think the construction market itself has changed and will continue to evolve as the world seeks a more sustainable environment.
However, whilst the procurement of construction work on major projects has become more refined, the supply chain itself has not changed. We still need the same labour force to construct the work and whilst great strides are being made in off-site manufacture and fabrication, for example, we still need the same bricklayers, plumbers and electricians to build the projects.
I do think timeframes have become more demanding and the industry is more litigious than it ever was.
Which types of projects are resulting in the most disputes at the moment? Why do you think this is?
I tend to focus on large international projects where disputes are substantial. Those projects span all sectors and projects. I don’t think it is possible to distinguish one sector or project type as being more “dispute-prone” than another. Wherever there is construction, there will be disputes. If one considers the complexity of the work and the number of interfaces between trades and consultants, disputes are an inevitable consequence.
In what ways are technological innovations impacting construction quantum analysis and the work of expert witnesses?
I think the biggest impact in recent years has been the sheer volume of data available on large projects. Gone are the days when as an expert you were presented with hard copy lever arch files of information. Now we are presented with substantial amounts of data on shared drives, all of which needs to be analysed and reviewed.
I also think covid-19 has helped us to understand there are more efficient ways of working. I have been involved in a number of virtual hearings, which have gone very well. Furthermore, client meetings which before the pandemic would have taken days and cost a lot of money in terms of time and travel can be equally efficient if organised virtually. The downside to that is that as an expert the ability to have some thinking space between meetings on various projects is more limited.
What are the greatest challenges the construction industry faced with the advent of covid-19?
Covid-19 has changed the way everybody works, but construction, an industry that requires its workers to be on site, often in confined spaces, has had to adapt very quickly to a completely new environment. The challenge of continuing to build in the face of such practical difficulties is enormous, but the industry has shown a tremendous resilience and has risen to the challenge, ensuring the work continues and the huge economy that construction supports is not unduly damaged.
How does Secretariat distinguish itself from competitors in the market?
Experience above all.
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 continue to be appointed as quantum expert on some of the world’s most interesting construction cases, but in time would like to use that experience to spend more time acting as a Tribunal member.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"Liam is a leader in his field"
"I've been impressed by his responsiveness, ability to think beyond the initial question and provide commercially astute advice"
"He manages his team well and provides me, as a lawyer, what I need"
"Liam is very good under cross-examination - calm and collected and a safe pair of hands"
"He has a very strong understanding of the role of an expert"

Biography

As a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor (FRICS) with 30 years’ experience on major international construction and engineering projects, Liam Holder’s project involvement spans many sectors and geographies, including the UK, mainland Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. He specialises in the valuation of complex claims involving aspects such as valuation and measurement, delay, disruption, variations, defective works and termination claims, and he is regularly appointed as quantum expert on large international projects.

Liam has served as expert advisor/witness during all phases of arbitration and litigation. He has provided written evidence to various tribunals (adjudication, dispute boards, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and litigation) and has given oral evidence on many occasions, including the provision of concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing), for the English High Court and various international arbitrations (ICSID, ICC, UNCITRAL, DIAC), as well as dispute boards, adjudications and mediations. He has given evidence in the UK, the Middle East, Europe and Canada.

Liam was a member of the working group established by the RICS to write the third edition of the RICS “Guidance Note for Surveyors Acting as Adjudicator”s. He is also the lead technical author for the fourth edition of the “RICS Practice Statement and Guidance Note for Surveyors Acting as Expert Witnesses”, the mandatory guidance for all RICS surveyors.

Liam holds an MSc in construction law and arbitration from Kings College, University of London and a BSc (Hons) degree in quantity surveying. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), a chartered construction manager (MCIOB), an accredited expert witness (CUEW), a member of the Academy of Experts (MAE) and a member of the Society of Construction Law.

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Liam Holder is hailed “the best quantum expert out there” and a consistent “leader in his field”.​

Biography

As a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor (FRICS) with 30 years’ experience on major international construction and engineering projects, Liam Holder’s project involvement spans many sectors and geographies, including the UK, mainland Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. He specialises in the valuation of complex claims involving aspects such as valuation and measurement, delay, disruption, variations, defective works and termination claims, and he is regularly appointed as quantum expert on large international projects.

Liam has served as expert advisor/witness during all phases of arbitration and litigation. He has provided written evidence to various tribunals (adjudication, dispute boards, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and litigation) and has given oral evidence on many occasions, including the provision of concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing), for the English High Court and various international arbitrations (ICSID, ICC, UNCITRAL, DIAC), as well as dispute boards, adjudications and mediations. He has given evidence in the UK, the Middle East, Europe and Canada.

Liam was a member of the working group established by the RICS to write the third edition of the RICS “Guidance Note for Surveyors Acting as Adjudicator”s. He is also the lead technical author for the fourth edition of the “RICS Practice Statement and Guidance Note for Surveyors Acting as Expert Witnesses”, the mandatory guidance for all RICS surveyors.

Liam holds an MSc in construction law and arbitration from Kings College, University of London and a BSc (Hons) degree in quantity surveying. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), a chartered construction manager (MCIOB), an accredited expert witness (CUEW), a member of the Academy of Experts (MAE) and a member of the Society of Construction Law.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Liam Holder is a “leading expert in quantum” who “performs very well” in evaluating complex construction claims.

Biography

As a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor (FRICS) with 30 years’ experience on major international construction and engineering projects, Liam Holder’s project involvement spans many sectors and geographies, including the UK, mainland Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. He specialises in the valuation of complex claims involving aspects such as valuation and measurement, delay, disruption, variations, defective works and termination claims, and he is regularly appointed as quantum expert on large international projects.

Liam has served as expert advisor/witness during all phases of arbitration and litigation. He has provided written evidence to various tribunals (adjudication, dispute boards, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and litigation) and has given oral evidence on many occasions, including the provision of concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing), for the English High Court and various international arbitrations (ICSID, ICC, UNCITRAL, DIAC), as well as dispute boards, adjudications and mediations. He has given evidence in the UK, the Middle East, Europe and Canada.

Liam was a member of the working group established by the RICS to write the third edition of the RICS “Guidance Note for Surveyors Acting as Adjudicator”s. He is also the lead technical author for the fourth edition of the “RICS Practice Statement and Guidance Note for Surveyors Acting as Expert Witnesses”, the mandatory guidance for all RICS surveyors.

Liam holds an MSc in construction law and arbitration from Kings College, University of London and a BSc (Hons) degree in quantity surveying. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), a chartered construction manager (MCIOB), an accredited expert witness (CUEW), a member of the Academy of Experts (MAE) and a member of the Society of Construction Law.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Liam Holder is a "greatly experienced" expert who is "great when giving evidence" in disputes arising from the construction sector. 

Biography

As a fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor (FRICS) with 30 years’ experience on major international construction and engineering projects, Liam Holder’s project involvement spans many sectors and geographies, including the UK, mainland Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. He specialises in the valuation of complex claims involving aspects such as valuation and measurement, delay, disruption, variations, defective works and termination claims, and he is regularly appointed as quantum expert on large international projects.

Liam has served as expert advisor/witness during all phases of arbitration and litigation. He has provided written evidence to various tribunals (adjudication, dispute boards, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and litigation) and has given oral evidence on many occasions, including the provision of concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing), for the English High Court and various international arbitrations (ICSID, ICC, UNCITRAL, DIAC), as well as dispute boards, adjudications and mediations. He has given evidence in the UK, the Middle East, Europe and Canada.

Liam was a member of the working group established by the RICS to write the third edition of the RICS “Guidance Note for Surveyors Acting as Adjudicator”s. He is also the lead technical author for the fourth edition of the “RICS Practice Statement and Guidance Note for Surveyors Acting as Expert Witnesses”, the mandatory guidance for all RICS surveyors.

Liam holds an MSc in construction law and arbitration from Kings College, University of London and a BSc (Hons) degree in quantity surveying. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), a chartered construction manager (MCIOB), an accredited expert witness (CUEW), a member of the Academy of Experts (MAE) and a member of the Society of Construction Law.

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