Last edited 12 Oct 2017

Expert evaluation

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.

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