Article by Delay Expert Andrew McKenna, Director of Delay and Planning
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How to choose a true delay expert?
An independent delay expert needs to be impartial when engaged in providing early delay and planning advice, so clients understand their actual liabilities or opportunities.
Qualifications are just one of the characteristics required to be a delay expert. Hands-on project delivery experience is imperative, as a delay expert must understand how projects are constructed, and ultimately planned in real life, rather than theoretical desktop programming exercises.
The list below provides ten questions you should be asking any potential delay expert and is in no way exhaustive.
- Do you have a construction related qualification?
- Do you have actual ‘hands-on’ project delivery experience?
- What previous roles have you held when delivering projects?
- Are you a member of any industry regulatory organisations?
- Do you have forensic skills in assessing facts and analysing evidence?
- Are you able to convey credibility in your reports?
- Do you have attention to detail?
- Can you confidently explain the cause and effect of events?
- Have you previously been requested to provide written and oral evidence in tribunals?
- Are you able to provide straightforward, clear advice, both written and orally?
How a Delay Expert can support you in negotiations
Delay experts are generally engaged as independent experts once a dispute is underway and being heard in a tribunal, or on the verge of proceedings.
However, contractors, subcontractors, and owners could settle some of the issues before reaching the formal dispute stage if they engaged a delay expert early in the process.
Apart from providing clarity and avoiding disputes with the other party, using a delay expert early in the process provides claimants with a degree of confidence in the actual effect of the delay(s) that have occurred. This clarity allows senior managers, board members, and investors to understand the liabilities and potential opportunities and to make confident decisions.
It is common (and only natural) that the claiming party seeks the best commercial position possible and may claim for time that does not necessarily form part of the event that has occurred. It is also common that a claiming party focuses on a particular event and considers all its additional delays are due to that specific event. Often other recoverable events are overlooked that could also be the cause of the delay(s). Focussing on one event and ignoring other issues can lead to delays not being apportioned correctly, resulting in global claims being constructed. Global claims are difficult to negotiate and can frustrate responding parties, leading to disputes.
A responding party needs to understand their real liabilities as soon as possible. Engaging a delay expert to assess a delay or time claim provides an objective, independent and realistic position. The responding party is equipped with factual evidence to negotiate and allows them to respond confidently.
An independent objective report that a true delay expert produces allows either side to understand the actual time recoverable due to additional work, defects and latent conditions and the like.
Whether it be understanding the effect of additional scope or access issues, certainty is required, particularly when large sums of money are at stake.
A common theme in construction projects is that parties cannot agree to the extent of the additional time required or spent, leading to stress, anxiety, frustration, and often formal disputes. With the increase in infrastructure projects funded by the private sector, it is even more critical to engage a true delay expert to provide investors with confidence and clarity.
Disclaimer: This paper does not in any way constitute any type of legal or professional advice whatsoever and in no way should be relied upon by any party whatsoever in any jurisdiction.