Jas Cheema
Firm:
Office:
6 Bevis Marks
EC3A 7BA
City:
London
Country:
England

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Construction

Jas Cheema is a partner in the London office of Accuracy. He works globally providing quantum expert opinion as well as litigation and arbitration support services relating to the calculation of and approach to damages and valuation of construction works. Jas has over 18 years of construction experience (including five years based in the Middle East) and he has provided expert witness testimony on a variety of construction-related quantum topics for government agencies, consulting organisations, developers, contractors and subcontractors.

Describe your career to date.

My career to date has been quite a journey. I did not imagine when I started my career at Sir Robert McAlpine as a graduate quantity surveyor that in the years to come, I would work in locations across the globe. I have worked on some incredible high-profile projects including stadiums, airports and the world’s tallest building. Throughout my journey, I have been fortunate to work alongside some talented professionals and lead some great teams.

You have a highly international practice. How are you seeing demand from different jurisdictions change?

We are currently seeing good demand from the UK, Europe and Asia but a particularly strong demand from the Middle East region. With big capital expenditure programmes in the Middle East region (UAE preparing for Expo 2020 and Qatar for the 2022 World Cup), we envisage continual increase in the demand for our services. We recently launched our North Africa office in Casablanca, Morocco, a region we also consider has a strong demand for our services.

What effect have recent changes in arbitration, such as the introduction of joint statements and memorial-style proceedings, had on the practice?

My recent experience of arbitration is that joint statements and meetings are being instructed much earlier in the overall process. This can have its advantages as experts meet and agree certain matters allowing for expert reports to focus on addressing areas of disagreement. However, this process works best when experts are appointed early in the arbitration process and have had sufficient time to consider the claims and supporting information before them.

I personally have seen an increase in the trend for memorial-style proceedings in arbitration. This is where all pleadings, witness evidence and expert evidence is submitted simultaneously. This style of proceeding can be stressful as deadline day approaches and the process has to be managed efficiently, particularly since pleadings, factual witness statements and expert reports may all rely on some degree of cross-referencing – late changes can result in time-consuming ripple effect adjustments across submissions.     

How competitive is the field of construction-related quantum consulting at present and what can one do to stand out in the field?

The field is competitive but generally only among a handful of key players in the market. To stand out in the field, my advice would be to maintain integrity and professionalism at all times and remember that an expert’s overriding duty is to the court or tribunal. Maintaining independence before instructing parties, lawyers and tribunals enhances the expert’s reputation and will allow him or her to stand out in their chosen field of expertise.

Has witness conferencing become more prevalent in arbitration? What is your opinion of this practice?

In my experience, witness conferencing is becoming increasingly prevalent in arbitration. I have personal experience of participating in witness conferencing (or “hot-tubbing”) and on each occasion, I felt that the interaction between experts and the tribunal was helpful and insightful. Witness conferencing allows the tribunal to probe the experts on areas of disagreement and to test points of principal/methodology to aid in its decision making process and therefore, can also provide insight into the tribunal’s thought process/concerns.

You recently moved to Accuracy. What plans do you have for your new practice?

After a five-year hiatus working in the Middle East, I am enjoying being back in the UK and my new position with Accuracy. My plans at Accuracy are quite simple: to develop and enhance our already fantastic quantum offering across Europe, the Middle East and Asia. We recently launched our new Dubai office and our Singapore office recently celebrated its second anniversary, and given my previous experience in the region (particularly the Middle East), I plan to assist the great talent we already have in those locations and further develop our service offering.

How do you expect the field of quantity surveying to change in the coming years?

The field of quantity surveying is an established one with its origins, I believe, set in early-19th-century Scotland. Primarily, the origins of the field centred around developing modes and methods of measurement of quantities of materials for construction projects to assist procurement, pricing and payment. While there may still be some that prefer drawings and a scale ruler to measure quantities, this is gradually being overtaken by software and modelling. As with most fields, quantity surveying is becoming more holistic and software led, progress and payment being interlinked with interactive “live” progress models.    

What is your proudest career achievement so far?

It is difficult to choose just one. I am proud of becoming a member of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors, my first quantum expert appointment in 2011, and my first recognition as an expert witness in WWL: Construction (2016).

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Construction: Expert Witnesses

Jas Cheema is a partner in the London office of Accuracy. He works globally providing quantum expert opinion as well as litigation and arbitration support services relating to the calculation of and approach to damages and valuation of construction works.

Jas has over 18 years of construction experience (including five years based in the Middle East) and he has provided expert witness testimony on a variety of construction related quantum topics for government agencies, consulting organisations, developers, contractors and subcontractors.

Jas has experience with many types of construction and infrastructure projects, including gas processing facilities, pipelines, tunnels, highways, sports stadia, hospitals, airports, mixed-use (commercial and residential), hospitality (hotels) and residential projects. His experience includes assessment of prolongation costs, cost escalation, disruption costs, the valuation of change orders and variations, contractor terminations, differing site conditions and measurement issues and numerous other forms of project impacts. Jas also has experience of projects involving various delivery and procurement methods such as design-build, EPC, target contracts, remeasurement, cost plus fixed fee and cost plus percentage fee arrangements.

Jas has testified in mediation and arbitration proceedings (including witness conferencing) as quantum expert across Europe and the Middle East. Jas holds a BSc (Hons) in civil engineering commercial management and a MSc in construction law.

WWL says: Jas Cheema is a highly competent expert who provides superb insight into quantum issues. He has "great understanding of the industry", say sources.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Construction which can be purchased from our Shop.

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