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Brian Clancy records some of his experiences as a civil and structural engineer and building surveyor over a period of some 50 years and how he became involved, by chance, in advising protagonists who had resorted to legal disputations to resolve their differences.
He is not a great supporter of disputations that rely too heavily on legal management of the arguments – and certainly not of going to court (if it can be avoided). Brian believes that going to court is, in principle, a failure, unless the matter is extremely complex or an issue upon which crucial legal clarification is required.
Most other instances are, in his view, exercises in 'bullying', inefficiency, dishonesty, arrogance or stupidity. It is important to appreciate that most well-conducted dispute 'cases' (the vast majority) are resolved without ever getting to court, so the 'expert' aspect is required far more often than the 'witness' part. The majority of expert witness roles in building and engineering disputes are in civil law cases, but some do occasionally arise in criminal cases, particularly where injury or fatality is involved.
Brian Clancy JP, CEng, FICE, FIStructE, FCIOB, MRICS.