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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Tom Kapapa

Tom Kapapa

HKADoha Tower 13th FloorAl Corniche Street, West BayDohaQatar

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Construction Experts 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Tom Kapapa is a leader in the Middle East thanks to his “impressive” expertise and “abilities in complex arbitration” cases.

Questions & Answers

Tom has over 20 years of worldwide experience, acting as both quantum and delay expert. He has been cross-examined in international arbitrations, including giving concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing), and has been praised for his testimony by counsel and tribunals alike. Tom commands respect from clients, opponents and peers. He is a logical, thorough and accurate exponent who can pinpoint key issues in a way that not only changes how cases are presented and discussed, but also unlocks obstructions to resolution of issues.
What do you enjoy most about your role as a testifying expert?
Being a testifying expert requires a lot of energy and preparation, but to get recognition from the tribunal or appointing counsel on your expert evidence and testimony must be my most enjoyable experience.
What has been your most memorable construction case?
My appointment as both delay and quantum expert by the MEP subcontractor on an ICC arbitration dispute against a contractor for the main terminal building of a now-famous airport in the Middle East. It was memorable because the subcontractor had gone into liquidation before the project was complete. It was a litigation-funded case and the subcontractor had no factual witnesses (other than the owner) and hence my evidence was document-based. I was cross-examined for three full days by a well-known QC (the successful award speaks volumes about my performance, which has been well recognised by counsel). The respondent’s defence and counterclaim included 12 factual witnesses, a delay and quantum expert, and over 100GB of documentation. The award was received, 18 months after the hearing, in favour of my client with 80 per cent awarded on costs. The award on my disruption evaluation was 90 per cent and there was no award on any counterclaims (US$100 million) in line with my evaluation and testimony. This was certainly my career case!
How does your background as a surveyor enhance your current practice?
As a quantity surveyor, I always remember the key principle: “always measure from zero”. You have to understand the project from the ground, and you have to be able to measure it yourself. This approach has put me in good stead with my expert appointments, and enabled me to understand and consider the evidence or pleadings before I arrive at my opinions. Additionally, my obligations as a chartered surveyor are in line with the duties expected when I am appointed to provide expert evidence.
What are the challenges faced by expert witnesses to remain impartial and independent when providing analysis and testimony? How do you overcome these?
The main challenges centre on how the expert is able to manage the client and counsel. Whereas counsel will know that an expert’s duty is solely to the tribunal, their aim is to advance a case that supports their client’s interests – which may indirectly put pressure on the expert. The clients are usually unfamiliar with this and expect their appointed expert to fight their case; they may not understand how the expert can be independent when they are the client paying the fees.
To overcome these pressures I apply various approaches. Soon after the appointment I set up a list of key issues that will be critical to the opinion – for example, with delays there may be issues related to baseline programmes, progress programmes and methodologies. I openly discuss with the client and counsel my early understanding of the case and the directions of my opinions, to give the client/counsel the opportunity to challenge them or provide more supporting evidence. I identify where there is a lack of evidence, and discuss the implications. If the agreed procedure allows, I meet with the other party’s expert to narrow down, or set, key evidence or methodologies around the assessment of delays or costs, etc. And I avoid major surprises in the final report.
What short and long-term affects do you see covid-19 having on the construction industry?
The short-term effects have really centred on the ability to continue financing projects due to a “pause” in revenue streams that are vital to the construction industry. However, the short-term, knee-jerk reaction has been clients revisiting agreements to renegotiate fees, etc. We will see projects being suspended or cancelled, which will lead to many disputes or disagreements on amicable settlements.
In the long-term, the construction industry remains an important driver of many GDPs and there may be many government initiatives to kickstart or continue planned projects.
How do you see the recent instability in oil prices influencing investment in the Middle East? What impact might it have on the nature of disputes in the region?
While oil prices have been unstable for a while, the concern is the extent of the recent drop in prices, with no positive outlook for them to increase soon. Notwithstanding this instability, there has not been a major change to investment in strategic projects. The Middle Eastern governments understand the need to diversify from reliance on oil revenue, with more investments focusing on green energy and operations, and the ongoing maintenance of existing facilities.
Therefore, we are seeing more disputes related to technical, investment and damages matters, as there are many projects in the operation phase, with fewer live construction projects.
What advice would you give younger experts undertaking their first cross-examination or hot-tubbing proceeding?
The pinnacle of an expert appointment is to go through cross-examination. It is the most stressful part of the role but should be enjoyed. Not many get the opportunity to be cross-examined but if you do, then you must grab it with both hands. An expert’s confidence can be amplified if the experience is positive and this requires a lot of preparation and drawing on your experience on the matters.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
My successful first cross-examination and hot-tubbing experience. The sleepless nights, adrenaline, loneliness in the “box” and excitement was worth it!

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"Tom is Qatar’s leading expert witness. He keeps a very cool head under pressure"
"Mr Kapapa has a gift for explaining complex concepts clearly for those less initiated"
"Tom has a full understanding of niche construction issues as well as industry and market practice"
"He listens attentively to the competing views, understands the other side’s position, and excels at using their position against them"

Biography

Tom is a surveyor with 20 years of construction industry experience. He acts as both delay and quantum expert, and has been appointed on five occasions.

Tom has a broad construction background, working as a site manager and a surveyor on a variety of projects across Africa, the Middle East and the UK. His diverse sectoral experience ranges from major city developments (including high-rise tower buildings and leisure developments), road and motorway construction, rail and station construction, and major structural steelwork to water, wastewater and infrastructure drainage, power station construction, oil and gas development, LNG complex development, and mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

Tom specialises in delay and quantum issues for civil and building infrastructure and industrial works. He quickly unravels complex situations, by simplifying the key elements necessary to solve issues, before reaching a formal dispute process.

Tom has acted as expert for disputed sums up to US$600 million and for projects values in excess of US$5 billion. He has been cross-examined in international arbitration twice, including giving concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing), and has been praised by counsel and tribunals alike for his testimony. Tom also acts as both an arbitrator and a mediator, and has taken the lead on a dispute adjudication board (DAB), as well as leading numerous claims negotiations.

Tom is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a member of the Royal Institution of Surveyors (RICS), Qatar country representative on the Dispute Resolution Board Forum, and an Academy of Experts-certified quantum expert. He acts as an assessor for RICS in the Middle East and provides training and mentoring for quantity surveyors and contact administrators in Qatar.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Tom Kapapa is a leader in the Middle East thanks to his “impressive” expertise and “abilities in complex arbitration” cases.

Biography

Tom is a surveyor with 20 years of construction industry experience. He acts as both delay and quantum expert, and has been appointed on five occasions.

Tom has a broad construction background, working as a site manager and a surveyor on a variety of projects across Africa, the Middle East and the UK. His diverse sectoral experience ranges from major city developments (including high-rise tower buildings and leisure developments), road and motorway construction, rail and station construction, and major structural steelwork to water, wastewater and infrastructure drainage, power station construction, oil and gas development, LNG complex development, and mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

Tom specialises in delay and quantum issues for civil and building infrastructure and industrial works. He quickly unravels complex situations, by simplifying the key elements necessary to solve issues, before reaching a formal dispute process.

Tom has acted as expert for disputed sums up to US$600 million and for projects values in excess of US$5 billion. He has been cross-examined in international arbitration twice, including giving concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing), and has been praised by counsel and tribunals alike for his testimony. Tom also acts as both an arbitrator and a mediator, and has taken the lead on a dispute adjudication board (DAB), as well as leading numerous claims negotiations.

Tom is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a member of the Royal Institution of Surveyors (RICS), Qatar country representative on the Dispute Resolution Board Forum, and an Academy of Experts-certified quantum expert. He acts as an assessor for RICS in the Middle East and provides training and mentoring for quantity surveyors and contact administrators in Qatar.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

The “extremely knowledgeable” Tom Kapapa is celebrated for his “full understanding of complex quantum issues”.

Biography

Tom is a surveyor with 20 years of construction industry experience. He acts as both delay and quantum expert, and has been appointed on five occasions.

Tom has a broad construction background, working as a site manager and a surveyor on a variety of projects across Africa, the Middle East and the UK. His diverse sectoral experience ranges from major city developments (including high-rise tower buildings and leisure developments), road and motorway construction, rail and station construction, and major structural steelwork to water, wastewater and infrastructure drainage, power station construction, oil and gas development, LNG complex development, and mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

Tom specialises in delay and quantum issues for civil and building infrastructure and industrial works. He quickly unravels complex situations, by simplifying the key elements necessary to solve issues, before reaching a formal dispute process.

Tom has acted as expert for disputed sums up to US$600 million and for projects values in excess of US$5 billion. He has been cross-examined in international arbitration twice, including giving concurrent evidence (hot-tubbing), and has been praised by counsel and tribunals alike for his testimony. Tom also acts as both an arbitrator and a mediator, and has taken the lead on a dispute adjudication board (DAB), as well as leading numerous claims negotiations.

Tom is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a member of the Royal Institution of Surveyors (RICS), Qatar country representative on the Dispute Resolution Board Forum, and an Academy of Experts-certified quantum expert. He acts as an assessor for RICS in the Middle East and provides training and mentoring for quantity surveyors and contact administrators in Qatar.

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