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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Michael Stokes is a “bright” and “extremely good quantum expert”, hailed for his tremendous expertise in delay analysis.

Questions & Answers

Michael is an internationally recognised quantum expert, with more than 30 years of experience. Michael has worked across all industries, but his core areas of expertise include rail (systems and rolling stock), power and process plants, pipelines, offshore platforms, stadia, major commercial buildings, including high-rise, and major infrastructure projects including ports, highways, tunnels and airports. Having been instructed on c. 60 occasions, Michael has testified in many jurisdictions including the UK, France, Denmark, the UAE, Qatar and Australia. 

What has been your most interesting case as an expert to date, and why?

Working within an international practice there have been so many interesting cases that it is difficult to single one out. My inherent interest in complex projects in remote locations is what keeps the job interesting! But if I had to single one out, it might be a large pipeline project in the Middle East that ran through very remote areas of the country. The works were completed during the Arab Spring and, perhaps understandably, the local communities did not take well to international contractors getting all the profits. Riots, physical attacks, extortion, theft and vandalism ensued. This, combined with the wider uprising, made life very difficult for both the contractors and the government client. In many ways a very distressing case, but interesting nonetheless. 

What attracted you to a career as a construction expert, rather than as a barrister? 

I never had any real ambition to practice as a barrister. I had already been working as a quantity surveyor, mostly on site, for more than a decade when I decided to take the bar exams. I undertook that additional training principally so that I could fully understand the essential ingredients of a robust claim, and know precisely what the legal team needs and expects when they appoint an independent expert. 

How has your training as a barrister enhanced your practice as construction expert? 

I think the vocational nature of the bar exams, and the topics covered, are very relevant to the work of an independent expert. In particular, drafting and advocacy were focused on how to efficiently and accurately express yourself in either the written or spoken word, skills that are essential for an expert. While clearly it is not for an expert to advocate a case, indeed quite the reverse, the presentation skills taught through the advocacy training were second to none. 

How does Ankura distinguish itself from the competition?

We undoubtedly operate in a very competitive market, but strong competition is essential and healthy, and ensures we continually strive to improve and better serve our clients. Ankura is different. Our ethos is very much centred on collaboration in every dimension. We believe that collaboration drives better results, whether we are serving a tribunal as an independent expert or a client as a consultant. 

Giving expert testimony is already a challenging feat. How do you master testifying in a diverse range of jurisdictions?

Really, the fundamentals are the same the world over. Your primary duty is invariably to assist the tribunal in understanding the contentious issues between the experts and to explain the basis for your opinions. If you keep this objective at the forefront of your mind, you should be okay. 

You must also be mindful of the tribunal’s level of experience in complex construction cases. A general commercial arbitrator, with limited construction experience, might need a fuller explanation of industry jargon or construction terms than, say, a former TCC judge sitting as an arbitrator might need. It is good to know your audience! 

What challenges do construction experts currently face, and how do you think they can be tackled?

Experts need to continue to rise to the challenge of making expert evidence more efficient and, therefore, less expensive. It seems to me that as projects become increasingly complex, so too the disputes that can arise become more complex. At the same time, to drive efficiency, hearings are getting shorter and, more so than ever given the pandemic and its economic consequences, clients are, understandably, extremely cost conscious.

So, the challenge for experts is to process, understand and cogently present increasingly complex evidence quicker and cheaper. This is a challenge that can be met. Having the right expertise is half the battle, enabling one to very quickly focus on the material issues in dispute and to develop a proportionate response.

I also firmly believe that allowing the parties’ respective experts to meet and exchange ideas early in the process is key to avoiding wasted costs. 

How would you advise younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?

Learn your trade and do you best to obtain the widest variety of experience possible. If you can, work with different teams, on different projects, in different countries. First and foremost a good independent expert needs technical expertise and real-world experience. 

Thought Leaders - Construction Experts 2020
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"He is able to identify the key issues and provide a persuasive report"
"He is one of the best quantum experts and has great experience"
"Michael Stokes is a very experienced expert"

Biography

Michael Stokes is a senior managing director at Ankura, based in London. He is an internationally recognised quantum expert, with more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry. Michael has worked across all industries, but his core areas of expertise include rail (systems and rolling stock); power and process plants; pipelines; offshore platforms; stadia; major commercial buildings, including high-rise; and major infrastructure projects including ports, highways, tunnels and airports.

He is regularly appointed as an independent expert on complex and high-value disputes. His core discipline is quantum, but he has also provided effective evidence in relation to delay and the standard of performance of quantity surveyors and project managers. Having been instructed in arbitration or litigation on more than 50 occasions, Michael has testified in a number of forums and jurisdictions including the UK, France, Denmark, the UAE, Qatar and Australia.

Michael was recently appointed on behalf of the government project sponsor as quantum expert in connection with 350km water pipeline and well field (55 production wells) project dispute. He provided independent evidence in Uncitral proceedings regarding all quantum aspects of the case, including valuation of variations, delay, disruption, and acceleration; and he testified at a hearing in Paris.

He was also appointed on behalf of the contractor as quantum expert in connection with a 530km, 42-inch diameter gas pipeline project dispute. He provided independent quantum evidence in ICC proceedings regarding all quantum aspects of the case, including valuation of variations, delay, disruption, and acceleration, as well as a quantum meruit claim; and he testified at a hearing in Australia, giving concurrent evidence.

Michael was appointed as quantum expert on behalf of the plant owner of a new 5000 TPD cement plant in Qatar. Claims related to unpaid certificates, variations and prolongation, and other delay-related claims and counterclaims, with total sums in dispute in excess of US$100 million. He testified at an ICC arbitration hearing in Qatar, giving concurrent evidence.

He was appointed as quantum expert on behalf of the Yard in connection with a claim related to the world’s largest wind assisted yacht. The claims related to the proper valuation of the works, and he testified at a hearing in London.

He was appointed as a quantum expert in an ICC arbitration in connection with a container port expansion project in the Middle East. Complex quantum issues arose regarding substantial costs to complete and the terminated contractor’s damages. Claims and counterclaims totalled circa US$50 million. He testified at a hearing in London.

He was appointed as quantum expert on behalf of a major subcontractor providing all the flexible pavement works on a major new highway in Qatar. Issues related to method of measurement, materials quantities, delay, and disruption costs. He testified at an ICC hearing in Qatar, and the claims were valued at circa £35 million.

He was appointed as quantum expert in connection with specialist airport services package on a major international airport expansion project in the Middle East. High-value claims related to disputed variations and contra charges, prolongation, and complex disruption. He testified at DIAC hearing, giving evidence concurrently.

He was appointed as quantum expert appointed on behalf of mechanical and electrical subcontractor, in a case relating to disputed variations, and delay and disruption costs for a new hotel project in the UAE.

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

Peers and clients say

“He is quite simply the best quantum expert I have worked with”

“His ability to understand complex matters and attention to detail is without parallel"

“He is one of the premier league quantum experts”

“Michael is the best” 

Biography

Michael Stokes is a senior managing director at Ankura, based in London. He is an internationally recognised quantum expert, with more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry. Michael has worked across all industries, but his core areas of expertise include rail (systems and rolling stock); power and process plants; pipelines; offshore platforms; stadia; major commercial buildings, including high-rise; and major infrastructure projects including ports, highways, tunnels and airports.

He is regularly appointed as an independent expert on complex and high-value disputes. His core discipline is quantum, but he has also provided effective evidence in relation to delay and the standard of performance of quantity surveyors and project managers. Having been instructed in arbitration or litigation on 60 occasions, Michael has testified in a number of forums and jurisdictions including the UK, France, Denmark, the UAE, Qatar and Australia.

Michael was recently appointed on behalf of the government project sponsor as quantum expert in connection with 350km water pipeline and well field (55 production wells) project dispute. He provided independent evidence in Uncitral proceedings regarding all quantum aspects of the case, including valuation of variations, delay, disruption, and acceleration; and he testified at a hearing in Paris.

He was also appointed on behalf of the contractor as quantum expert in connection with a 530km, 42-inch diameter gas pipeline project dispute. He provided independent quantum evidence in ICC proceedings regarding all quantum aspects of the case, including valuation of variations, delay, disruption, and acceleration, as well as a quantum meruit claim; and he testified at a hearing in Australia, giving concurrent evidence.

Michael was appointed as quantum expert on behalf of the plant owner of a new 5000 TPD cement plant in Qatar. Claims related to unpaid certificates, variations and prolongation, and other delay-related claims and counterclaims, with total sums in dispute in excess of US$100 million. He testified at an ICC arbitration hearing in Qatar, giving concurrent evidence.

He was appointed as quantum expert on behalf of the Yard in connection with a claim related to the world’s largest wind assisted yacht. The claims related to the proper valuation of the works, and he testified at a hearing in London.

He was appointed as a quantum expert in an ICC arbitration in connection with a container port expansion project in the Middle East. Complex quantum issues arose regarding substantial costs to complete and the terminated contractor’s damages. Claims and counterclaims totalled circa US$50 million. He testified at a hearing in London.

He was appointed as quantum expert on behalf of a major subcontractor providing all the flexible pavement works on a major new highway in Qatar. Issues related to method of measurement, materials quantities, delay, and disruption costs. He testified at an ICC hearing in Qatar, and the claims were valued at circa £35 million.

He was appointed as quantum expert in connection with specialist airport services package on a major international airport expansion project in the Middle East. High-value claims related to disputed variations and contra charges, prolongation, and complex disruption. He testified at DIAC hearing, giving evidence concurrently.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

The “established” Michael Stokes comes recommended as “a highly regarded international quantum expert” and “a cut above most experts in the industry”.

Biography

Michael Stokes is a senior managing director at Ankura, based in London. He is an internationally recognised quantum expert, with more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry. Michael has worked across all industries, but his core areas of expertise include rail (systems and rolling stock); power and process plants; pipelines; offshore platforms; stadia; major commercial buildings, including high-rise; and major infrastructure projects including ports, highways, tunnels and airports.

He is regularly appointed as an independent expert on complex and high-value disputes. His core discipline is quantum, but he has also provided effective evidence in relation to delay and the standard of performance of quantity surveyors and project managers. Having been instructed in arbitration or litigation on more than 50 occasions, Michael has testified in a number of forums and jurisdictions including the UK, France, Denmark, the UAE, Qatar and Australia.

Michael was recently appointed on behalf of the government project sponsor as quantum expert in connection with 350km water pipeline and well field (55 production wells) project dispute. He provided independent evidence in Uncitral proceedings regarding all quantum aspects of the case, including valuation of variations, delay, disruption, and acceleration; and he testified at a hearing in Paris.

He was also appointed on behalf of the contractor as quantum expert in connection with a 530km, 42-inch diameter gas pipeline project dispute. He provided independent quantum evidence in ICC proceedings regarding all quantum aspects of the case, including valuation of variations, delay, disruption, and acceleration, as well as a quantum meruit claim; and he testified at a hearing in Australia, giving concurrent evidence.

Michael was appointed as quantum expert on behalf of the plant owner of a new 5000 TPD cement plant in Qatar. Claims related to unpaid certificates, variations and prolongation, and other delay-related claims and counterclaims, with total sums in dispute in excess of US$100 million. He testified at an ICC arbitration hearing in Qatar, giving concurrent evidence.

He was appointed as quantum expert on behalf of the Yard in connection with a claim related to the world’s largest wind assisted yacht. The claims related to the proper valuation of the works, and he testified at a hearing in London.

He was appointed as a quantum expert in an ICC arbitration in connection with a container port expansion project in the Middle East. Complex quantum issues arose regarding substantial costs to complete and the terminated contractor’s damages. Claims and counterclaims totalled circa US$50 million. He testified at a hearing in London.

He was appointed as quantum expert on behalf of a major subcontractor providing all the flexible pavement works on a major new highway in Qatar. Issues related to method of measurement, materials quantities, delay, and disruption costs. He testified at an ICC hearing in Qatar, and the claims were valued at circa £35 million.

He was appointed as quantum expert in connection with specialist airport services package on a major international airport expansion project in the Middle East. High-value claims related to disputed variations and contra charges, prolongation, and complex disruption. He testified at DIAC hearing, giving evidence concurrently.

He was appointed as quantum expert appointed on behalf of mechanical and electrical subcontractor, in a case relating to disputed variations, and delay and disruption costs for a new hotel project in the UAE.

Features by Michael Stokes

Construction 2018: Roundtable

Construction 2018: Roundtable

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