Expert evaluation is where a neutral third party, with relevant expertise and experience, provides an objective and impartial evaluation of both sides of a dispute. The evaluation provided is not binding on the parties; however, it can provide valuable assistance in settling disputes and moving forwards.
The typical process adopted involves:
- Reviewing both parties’ arguments.
- Reviewing any relevant documents.
- Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of both parties’ arguments.
- Considering what the likely outcome would be of any third party determination.
- Informing both parties of the assessment and advising them how to move forwards.
Having this independent expert view can help the parties to enter, or conclude, formal negotiations with a proper understanding, both of the issues and the risks involved of taking the matter to a third party determination.
Expert evaluation may be suitable:
- Where the parties are already involved in informal discussions and find progress difficult due to uncertainty over an issue outside of their expertise.
- Where the matters in dispute are largely technical in nature.
- Where the relationship between the two parties has not broken down.
- Where both parties wish to conclude the matter and move forwards.
When considering expert evaluation the parties should have:
- Joint understanding that the negotiations have hit difficulties and stalled.
- A willingness to resolve the matter.
- Agreement on the use of an expert.
- Identification of the type of expert required.
- Agreement on the identity of the expert.
Professional institutes can help identify an appropriate expert to approach, as can a specialist institute such as the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIAB).
When initially approaching an expert, the parties should:
- Agree to joint and several liability for the expert’s fee.
- Provide a description of the negotiation in question.
- Provide a description of the matter on which the expert is required to provide an evaluation.
- Outline the necessary timescale.
The advantages of expert evaluation include:
- Helping make the parties think more realistically about the negotiations.
- Providing an understanding of previously difficult or ambiguous issues.
- Provide an understanding of the risks associated with third party determination.
The disadvantages of expert evaluation include:
- The independent expert is likely to change a significant fee.
- Finding an independent expert that both parties find acceptable can be difficult.
- Both parties may find the evaluation unacceptable and therefore unhelpful in moving the negotiations forward.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Alternative dispute resolution.
- Construction disputes.
- Contract negotiation.
- Dispute resolution.
- Dispute resolution board.
- Expert determination.
- Expert witness.
- Negotiation techniques.
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