- Completion / defects reports
- Dilapidation reports
- Home owner warranty reports
- Owner/builder reports
- Prepurchase building reports
- Pest reports
- Expert witness reports
- O.H.S - Occupational Health & Safety Checks
Why use a experts witnesses? Building disputes are invariably characterised by:
- Defective building work
- Time overruns
- Overpayments or cost overruns
- Monies is being owed to builders and contractors
- Someone in possession of the relevant skill sets, be they costing, engineering, construction or design.
- An expert with whom one is familiar with; a person that is held in high esteem.
- Integrity, candour and a spine – no one likes surprises, so it’s not about the expert telling you what you want to hear. One needs the truth, and often that does not align with that the client’s position. Hence you need an expert who can stand up for him or herself, won’t be led and backs a position.
- Eloquence, as the expert has to be persuasive in the giving of expert opinion.
- Unflappability, as expert witnesses will be subjected to the blowtorch of cross examination where the advocate will seek to discredit and sometimes humiliate the expert to nullify the effectiveness of the testimony.
- Experience giving testimony in court; the court is no place to “road test” a fledgling for fear of the client becoming the casualty.
Alas, unless one has a “road tested relationship with an expert” the only way one can locate experts of higher calibre is by way of word of mouth. Otherwise it can be a lottery, because there is no expert accreditation or registration regime. Expert witnesses are not found in the categories of building practitioner registrants, so they do not come under the jurisdiction of any oversight body like the VBA. Unlike lawyers and doctors, there is no ability to strike an expert off the roll, because there is no roll. Furthermore there is no recognised qualification in expert witness testimony, nor is there any requirement by law that they be insured. If a lawyer is negligent in a building case, regardless of whether it is due to an overreliance upon expert evidence or other factors, the aggrieved knows the solicitor by law is required to be insured. No such luck for the aggrieved with the expert. Troublingly, in 30 years of practice, during which time I have been involved in thousands of building disputes, I have never witnessed a plaintiff expert agreeing with a defendant expert on diagnosis and costing. I am not going to speculate on the reasons for the divergence, but the contrary nature of expert evidence has become part of the DNA of building disputes. This is a very serious problem in the dispute resolution dynamic. The inability of the system to facilitate expert opinion convergence of opinion is, in my view, the greatest factor that influences the winning or losing of cases. If the experts can’t or won’t agree on the construction solution or the cost of the solution, how the hell can a matter be resolved? Editor : My Dear Friend Professor Kim Lovegrove. Kim is the Professor in Construction law, and advisor to the Australia /New Zealand & Japanese government.