Friday, 27 May 2016

Expert Witness In Water Process Engineering: Attention to Detail

I'm really getting stuck in to one of the expert witness jobs now, and I'm producing a quick initial draft report to inform the client of the engineering facts and consensus professional opinion around their positions.

Professional pride means that I pay a high degree of attention to detail in all of my work, but in professional engineering practice, there are multiple safeguards against error, based on an acceptance that the very best work has a few percent of errors. Expert witness work is an individual rather than a collective activity, so it does not have these safeguards, which means that you have to be your own QA department.

No expert would enjoy having errors in their arguments or calculations discovered in cross examination, and in the UK, expert witnesses are not immune from being sued by aggrieved ex-clients who feel they were led into an overly optimistic view of their prospects by an expert witness they had engaged.

The expert therefore needs to be very careful in what they say and write, even at the earliest stages of engagement. They should resist any urges they may experience to sell the client on using their services by being the most expert who is most optimistic about their chances in court in the beauty parade which larger law firms use often nowadays.

Similarly, the expert witness needs to be careful about their terms of engagement. Professional Indemnity Insurance does not necessarily cover every possible set of terms an expert might sign up for, and some law firms have a surprisingly bad track record of paying their expert witnesses on time.    

Friday, 20 May 2016

Expert Witness: Sewage and Effluent Treatment

I have got a couple of expert witness jobs on the books now, both with enough meat on the bones to take a while to get to the bottom of. Both involve effluent treatment, one municipal and the other industrial, and unusually, both might be expected to make it to court.

I have been trained in being cross-examined in court, and have some experience of it, but it is good to get an opportunity to get more. 98% of cases get settled before they make it to court, and it is therefore hard to get courtroom experience.

In other news, the plant layout book is nearly finished, and I have written a number of blogs on LinkedIn and for Elsevier which have provoked a debate about (amongst other things) the problems with engineering education which I have written about before.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Expert Witness and Author: Water Process Plant Design

Plant Layout

I'm talking to a couple of new Expert Witness clients today. If all goes well, I will be comfortably busy for the next eighteen months. Both interesting jobs, and one in a country I haven't visited before. Both also covered by NDAs, hence the vagueness.

My Plant Layout book is complete other than the illustrations, which shouldn't take more than a couple of weeks to sort out. I'm going to have a break from writing while I sort out the new expert witness engagements, so "An Applied Guide to Water and Effluent Treatment Plant Design" will probably not get started until December.

I'm expecting it to more or less write itself, as my first book did. It won't be the slog that the Plant Layout book was, due to being a conventional 1,000 page textbook written in a traditional style. It will be no more than half that size, and written in the chatty style of my first book.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Expert Witness Engagements Come in Threes

I'm in the running for three expert witness jobs at the moment, all to do with commercial disputes in the waste water treatment field.

Two are in the UK municipal sector, and the third is to do with oily industrial effluent in the German-speaking world.

None yet require the equivalent of a Part 35 expert report, and two of them are in any case outside England and Wales where the civil procedure rules apply.

All would be technically interesting even without the added interest of a dispute over the facts and their interpretation.

Hopefully, at least one of these will land next week. Like buses however, they tend to come along in pairs or larger multiples.

Luckily the plant layout book text is written and checked now, so I have a couple of months to make sure all of the illustrations in there are just how I want them.