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04/06/20

My journey to becoming an Expert Witness

My journey to becoming an Expert Witness

My journey to becoming an Expert Witness

Kelvin Ng takes us through his career, experiences, and training enabling him to become a Diales Expert.

My name is Kelvin Ng and I am a Diales Delay Expert based in Sydney, Australia. Diales is a dedicated brand of Driver Group, which provide Expert Witness services in Quantum, Delay Analysis, or a Technical discipline. I have recently had the honour to join the Diales team in the field of delay analysis, and I would like to share my career journey and how it has led me to becoming a Delay Expert, and discuss the competency requirements of a Diales Expert Witness. 


I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Purdue University (USA). I then joined one of the largest transportation (e.g., highway, bridges and rail) contractors in the USA. I held the role of a project engineer to an assistant project manager in preparing, monitoring, benchmarking, and managing the cost reports and construction programmes of highway and bridge projects in San Diego, Chicago, and Indianapolis.

Subsequently, I joined the URS (an AECOM company) Southwest US dispute resolution team as a construction claims analyst, preparing and responding to claims and disputes in the area of delay, quantum, and the standard duty of care in the construction industry. This role was referred to me by a professional in the construction dispute resolution industry. I had had no prior knowledge of this line of work. I had always taken on a front-end role as a contractor. As a contractor, we had self-performed most of the claims. Additionally, construction disputes were not as common in the Midwest (USA).

I was quickly attracted to the attributes of the claims and dispute works in the construction industry: the work was short but intense, skills required were specialised (compared to more general and broader skillsets required by most general contractor employers in the USA), and the critical forensic skills were essential in re-constructing the ‘stories’ retrospectively. The claims and dispute works have since aligned well with my career aspiration.

In URS, I was an assistant and the lead assistant to the expert witnesses on matters relating to California Department of Transportation projects in Southern California, three hospitals in Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area, a wastewater treatment plant in Phoenix Arizona, a regional justice centre in Las Vegas, a concert hall and a high rise residential in Southern California.


In 2009, I decided to relocate to Australia to be closer to my family there and in Asia. I was also drawn to the booming construction market in the Asia Pacific region. Since then, I have held the role of a construction planning consultant, delay analyst, ‘shadow’ delay expert and Delay Expert on matters in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Netherlands, Middle East, and West Africa. I gained experience working on transportation infrastructure matters (e.g., metro, light rail, rail, motorway, road, and tunnel projects), defence (air-base), renewable and non-renewable power plants, power transmission structures, process plants, oil and gas, desalination, water treatment plants, mining, marine/port structures, government and commercial building projects.

After acting as an assistant and the lead assistant over a number of years, I was inspired to pursue a career as an Expert in 2012. The pathway to becoming a Delay Expert has not always been well defined in the industry. There are several ways to become a Delay Expert. Generally, most Delay Experts would agree, to become a Delay Expert, one shall possess the specialist knowledge and experience in planning and delay analysis. Besides gaining the working experience as a planner and delay analyst, I have gained the specialist knowledge to be a certified AACE International Planning and Scheduling Professional (AACEi-PSP) in September 2008, and a certified Project Management Institute Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) in August 2012.

Next, I undertook the relevant training to better understand the role and responsibility of an expert, the requirement set out for an expert report and the joint expert report, and the procedure and role of an expert in court. In May 2016, I attended expert witness training organised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in Sydney Australia, during which I was cross-examined by a barrister. I am a RICS accredited expert witness. I also attended expert witness training administered by The Academy of Experts in November 2019, also during which I was cross-examined by a barrister.


To become a Delay Expert, the understanding of law concerning construction dispute is essential. Therefore, I obtained a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in Construction Law and Arbitration in 2019.

I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), Society of Construction Australia, and Project Management Institute (PMI). To date, I have been involved in excess of 50 construction projects (including over 45 planning or forensic planning assignments) ranging in size from tens of thousands to billions of dollars. My recent ‘shadow’ delay expert and Delay Expert appointments include, but are not limited to:

Delay Expert appointment in relation to an insurance matter, between the D&C contractor JV and the insurance underwriters, in a A$4.3b motorway construction in Sydney.

Delay Expert appointment in relation to A$60m EOT claims, between the D&C contractor and the principal, in a Sydney Metro project involving tunnelling, substructure steel support and pedestrian access works.

‘Shadow’ delay expert appointment in Notice of Dispute, between the EPC contractor and the principal, in relation to a 255MW solar power plant.

Delay Expert appointments in two separate adjudication proceedings, between the EPC contractor and the principal, in relation to a solar power plant.

Programming Expert appointment in the NSW Supreme Court proceeding, between the contractor and a city council, in relation to a demolition and construction of an aquatic centre.

Delay Expert appointment in an adjudication proceeding, between the contractor and the developer, in relation to a mixed-use development in NSW, Australia.


 

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