The Use of Experts in International Arbitration: Selection of an Expert Witness

by Mintz Levin
Contact

In international arbitrations, litigators from the U.S. often find a bit of the familiar mixed in with equal or greater bits of the unfamiliar. (Whether they acknowledge or treat the latter as such, alas, varies by practitioner.) For example, expert witnesses may be appointed (a) by the respective parties (“Party-appointed” experts), (b) by the arbitral panel (“Tribunal-appointed” experts), or (c) with input from each. Here, we discuss the seemingly familiar selection of Party-appointed experts. (This is part of a series of articles concerning the use of experts in international arbitration.)

Generally, counsel may engage an expert in an international arbitration (as in domestic litigation) to serve (1) as a consultant, who will not give evidence, (2) as a testifying witness, or (3) both. Selection of an advisory consultant (a “consulting expert”) is principally a matter of identifying a candidate who has the necessary expertise and is compatible with counsel. On the other hand, having the necessary expertise is fundamental, but not sufficient, for a testifying witness.

The selection of a testifying expert also requires due consideration of the candidate’s communication skills, demeanor, and adaptability, among other things. This is due largely to an unfamiliar aspect of international arbitration – that is, codified procedural rules concerning the use of experts in international arbitration are scarce. Hence, the procedural “rules of the road” regarding the presentation of expert evidence will frequently be created ad hoc by the parties during the arbitral proceeding. (This is discussed in another article in this series.)

1. Essential Characteristics of an Expert Witness

As a practical matter, it is advisable to seek at least the following characteristics in expert witness candidates: (1) the required expertise, (2) sterling pertinent credentials or experience, (3) communication skills, (4) a demeanor evoking trust, and (5) fluency in the language of the proceeding.

Communication skills are essential. It is not enough simply to be an expert. The most brilliant expert may not even be a functional expert witness. The ability to communicate expertise to a lay audience is key. Indeed, a candidate expert witness must appreciate that his or her task is to communicate his or her opinions effectively to a specific audience -- i.e., the particular arbitrators in the case.

Moreover, credibility is vital. An expert witness must aim to be perceived by the tribunal as authoritative and reliable. The independence of an expert witness is in effect considered a requirement in the useful guidance afforded by the IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration (2010) (the “IBA Rules”). (See Arts. 5(2)(c); 6(2).) A Tribunal-appointed expert is, of course, presumed to be independent of the parties, but a Party-appointed expert should in effect aim to be viewed similarly by the arbitrator(s).

Toward that end, it is important for counsel to preserve the appearance of the expert witness’s objectivity. This is a foundation of the witness’s credibility. Hence, an expert witness should not be encouraged to be, or placed in a position in which he or she appears to be, an advocate. The expert is typically not well-suited for the role in any case, and the appearance of advocacy will very like impair the witness’s credibility and thus effectiveness.

2. Expert Selection: When?

Potential witnesses with even the foundational required expertise and credentials may be scarce. Therefore, it is wise to try to identify the pool of potential experts, especially the elite candidates, at the earliest opportunity.

2.1 Consulting Expert

A consulting expert, who will not be giving evidence, can be useful for identifying (1) the scope of issues that will require expert evidence, (2) the desired evidence, (3) lines of investigation, (4) desirable data and information, (5) likely factual issues, and (6) related legal issues. Hence, if one considers the benefits to be sufficient, the earlier one can bring on board such an advisor, the better.

The need for early engagement of a consulting expert is perhaps most acute for purposes of early assessments of injuries and potential compensation. All parties will likely want to make early evaluations of the risk/reward picture from their respective perspectives. For example, a claimant with a strong case on liability but a weak case on damages will want to be aware of the situation before commencing arbitration. Moreover, this need for early evaluation is no different if the arbitral proceeding is bifurcated between liability and damages.

In addition, relying on a non-testifying expert while one’s case is developing avoids the worry of disclosing sensitive information in communications that are not privileged. Whereas a testifying expert might be questioned about such communications, a consulting expert might not even be disclosed, much less be the subject of questioning.

2.2 Testifying Expert

A testifying expert, on the other hand, ideally will not be selected until after the relevant arbitration procedures, including hearing procedures, are set by agreement of the parties and/or the Tribunal’s order. Engaging a testifying expert before knowing what that expert’s entire job will be—e.g., before it is decided whether “hot-tubbing” will be part of the hearing procedure—creates an unnecessary risk. We do not mean to suggest that a consulting expert could not be selected to testify as well, or that a testifying expert could not be selected relatively early in the arbitration process, but rather that it would be best that any such choice await a full elucidation of all that will be required of the expert witness.

3. Factors for Consideration in Assessing Candidate Experts

In assessing each candidate expert’s strengths and weaknesses, consideration should be given to the candidate’s personal qualities, to the agreed or prescribed procedures for giving expert evidence, and to the international arbitration “culture” that affects its practice.

The following factors should be considered in selecting a testifying expert: (1) the necessary expertise; (2) relevant formal credentials and/or experience; (3) reputation for expertise in the relevant field; (4) reputation generally; (5) prior publications (including speeches) and testimony; (6) potential conflict, bias or interest factors; (7) language skills (including fluency in the language of the proceeding); (8) communication skills (oral and written); (9) an ingratiating demeanor; (10) apparent credibility, assertiveness (willingness to challenge others), and tenacity (when challenged); and (11) experience as an expert witness. Counsel may also be tempted at the outset to probe whether a candidate is inclined to support the client’s position. This is at best a most delicate inquiry, and is likely to result in problems no matter what the response is to such a litmus test.

One begins with the basics—assessing the relevance and degree of the candidate’s expertise, the strength of the candidate’s formal credentials, his/her reputation in the pertinent field of expertise, and the candidate’s prior testimony and publications.

Second, one will want to assess the candidate’s oral communications skill, including the candidate’s language skills. Fluency in the agreed language of the arbitration is almost essential. Ideally, an expert should testify in his native tongue. Technical expertise is particularly difficult to convey in a non-native language, and the credibility of testimony will suffer if the expert is not fluent in the language of his testimony. (When an interpreter must be used, that person should be very familiar with the jargon of the expert’s discipline, the expert’s dialect, etc.)

Furthermore, the expert’s demeanor (hopefully pleasant and ingratiating) in a pressurized situation—giving testimony in a formal proceeding, being cross-examined, possible hot-tubbing, etc.—will have a significant effect on how that testimony is perceived. Moreover, given the variety of potential interrogators and procedures that the expert may have to accommodate, one should assess the candidate’s mental agility and ability to respond in a proceeding similar to a debate.

In general, one should assess each candidate’s assertiveness, tenacity and flexibility. At the extreme, for example, one must anticipate whether an expert’s opinions, once formulated, could be substantially changed (without good reason such as changed assumptions) during his/her interactions with friendly counsel, colleagues, or adverse counsel. If so, that witness is vulnerable and a potential liability because unwarranted acquiescence of that kind is undesirable.

There are also extrinsic factors that may affect one’s selection of an expert witness. For example, in considering what will persuade the Tribunal, the backgrounds and styles of the arbitrators—most importantly, the Tribunal chairman—should be considered. Thus, one should consider each arbitrator’s training and experience. Is it, for example, in business or technology or law? If his or her background is in law, does the arbitrator come from a common law jurisdiction, which resolves disputes by an adversarial process, or a civil law jurisdiction, which resolves disputes by an inquisitorial process? Moreover, is the personal style of the arbitrator formal or informal?

One should also consider the expertise, credentials, and reputation of opposing experts and the backgrounds of opposing counsel.

4. Conclusion

Perhaps the simplest lesson to be retained is that the timing, criteria, and vetting in the selection of expert witnesses in international arbitration is a bit different from routine practices in U.S. litigation, particularly in Federal Court. An appreciation of those differences will be invaluable.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Mintz Levin | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Mintz Levin
Contact
more
less

Mintz Levin on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide

JD Supra Privacy Policy

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC ("JD Supra" or "we," "us," or "our") collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our "Website") who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our "Services"). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

Please note that if you subscribe to one of our Services, you can make choices about how we collect, use and share your information through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard (available if you are logged into your JD Supra account).

Collection of Information

Registration Information. When you register with JD Supra for our Website and Services, either as an author or as a subscriber, you will be asked to provide identifying information to create your JD Supra account ("Registration Data"), such as your:

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Title
  • Country

Other Information: We also collect other information you may voluntarily provide. This may include content you provide for publication. We may also receive your communications with others through our Website and Services (such as contacting an author through our Website) or communications directly with us (such as through email, feedback or other forms or social media). If you are a subscribed user, we will also collect your user preferences, such as the types of articles you would like to read.

Information from third parties (such as, from your employer or LinkedIn): We may also receive information about you from third party sources. For example, your employer may provide your information to us, such as in connection with an article submitted by your employer for publication. If you choose to use LinkedIn to subscribe to our Website and Services, we also collect information related to your LinkedIn account and profile.

Your interactions with our Website and Services: As is true of most websites, we gather certain information automatically. This information includes IP addresses, browser type, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the Website and our Services, to improve the content and performance of our Website and Services, and to track users' movements around the site. We may also link this automatically-collected data to personal information, for example, to inform authors about who has read their articles. Some of this data is collected through information sent by your web browser. We also use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect this information. To learn more about cookies and other tracking technologies that JD Supra may use on our Website and Services please see our "Cookies Guide" page.

How do we use this information?

We use the information and data we collect principally in order to provide our Website and Services. More specifically, we may use your personal information to:

  • Operate our Website and Services and publish content;
  • Distribute content to you in accordance with your preferences as well as to provide other notifications to you (for example, updates about our policies and terms);
  • Measure readership and usage of the Website and Services;
  • Communicate with you regarding your questions and requests;
  • Authenticate users and to provide for the safety and security of our Website and Services;
  • Conduct research and similar activities to improve our Website and Services; and
  • Comply with our legal and regulatory responsibilities and to enforce our rights.

How is your information shared?

  • Content and other public information (such as an author profile) is shared on our Website and Services, including via email digests and social media feeds, and is accessible to the general public.
  • If you choose to use our Website and Services to communicate directly with a company or individual, such communication may be shared accordingly.
  • Readership information is provided to publishing law firms and authors of content to give them insight into their readership and to help them to improve their content.
  • Our Website may offer you the opportunity to share information through our Website, such as through Facebook's "Like" or Twitter's "Tweet" button. We offer this functionality to help generate interest in our Website and content and to permit you to recommend content to your contacts. You should be aware that sharing through such functionality may result in information being collected by the applicable social media network and possibly being made publicly available (for example, through a search engine). Any such information collection would be subject to such third party social media network's privacy policy.
  • Your information may also be shared to parties who support our business, such as professional advisors as well as web-hosting providers, analytics providers and other information technology providers.
  • Any court, governmental authority, law enforcement agency or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation, or otherwise to protect our rights, the rights of any third party or individuals' personal safety, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or safety issues.
  • To our affiliated entities and in connection with the sale, assignment or other transfer of our company or our business.

How We Protect Your Information

JD Supra takes reasonable and appropriate precautions to insure that user information is protected from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. You should keep in mind that no Internet transmission is ever 100% secure or error-free. Where you use log-in credentials (usernames, passwords) on our Website, please remember that it is your responsibility to safeguard them. If you believe that your log-in credentials have been compromised, please contact us at privacy@jdsupra.com.

Children's Information

Our Website and Services are not directed at children under the age of 16 and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 16 through our Website and/or Services. If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 has provided personal information to us, please contact us, and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.

Links to Other Websites

Our Website and Services may contain links to other websites. The operators of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using our Website or Services and click a link to another site, you will leave our Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We are not responsible for the data collection and use practices of such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of our Website and Services and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Information for EU and Swiss Residents

JD Supra's principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

  • Our Legal Basis for Processing: Generally, we rely on our legitimate interests in order to process your personal information. For example, we rely on this legal ground if we use your personal information to manage your Registration Data and administer our relationship with you; to deliver our Website and Services; understand and improve our Website and Services; report reader analytics to our authors; to personalize your experience on our Website and Services; and where necessary to protect or defend our or another's rights or property, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, safety or privacy issues. Please see Article 6(1)(f) of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") In addition, there may be other situations where other grounds for processing may exist, such as where processing is a result of legal requirements (GDPR Article 6(1)(c)) or for reasons of public interest (GDPR Article 6(1)(e)). Please see the "Your Rights" section of this Privacy Policy immediately below for more information about how you may request that we limit or refrain from processing your personal information.
  • Your Rights
    • Right of Access/Portability: You can ask to review details about the information we hold about you and how that information has been used and disclosed. Note that we may request to verify your identification before fulfilling your request. You can also request that your personal information is provided to you in a commonly used electronic format so that you can share it with other organizations.
    • Right to Correct Information: You may ask that we make corrections to any information we hold, if you believe such correction to be necessary.
    • Right to Restrict Our Processing or Erasure of Information: You also have the right in certain circumstances to ask us to restrict processing of your personal information or to erase your personal information. Where you have consented to our use of your personal information, you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You can make a request to exercise any of these rights by emailing us at privacy@jdsupra.com or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

You can also manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard.

We will make all practical efforts to respect your wishes. There may be times, however, where we are not able to fulfill your request, for example, if applicable law prohibits our compliance. Please note that JD Supra does not use "automatic decision making" or "profiling" as those terms are defined in the GDPR.

  • Timeframe for retaining your personal information: We will retain your personal information in a form that identifies you only for as long as it serves the purpose(s) for which it was initially collected as stated in this Privacy Policy, or subsequently authorized. We may continue processing your personal information for longer periods, but only for the time and to the extent such processing reasonably serves the purposes of archiving in the public interest, journalism, literature and art, scientific or historical research and statistical analysis, and subject to the protection of this Privacy Policy. For example, if you are an author, your personal information may continue to be published in connection with your article indefinitely. When we have no ongoing legitimate business need to process your personal information, we will either delete or anonymize it, or, if this is not possible (for example, because your personal information has been stored in backup archives), then we will securely store your personal information and isolate it from any further processing until deletion is possible.
  • Onward Transfer to Third Parties: As noted in the "How We Share Your Data" Section above, JD Supra may share your information with third parties. When JD Supra discloses your personal information to third parties, we have ensured that such third parties have either certified under the EU-U.S. or Swiss Privacy Shield Framework and will process all personal data received from EU member states/Switzerland in reliance on the applicable Privacy Shield Framework or that they have been subjected to strict contractual provisions in their contract with us to guarantee an adequate level of data protection for your data.

California Privacy Rights

Pursuant to Section 1798.83 of the California Civil Code, our customers who are California residents have the right to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes.

You can make a request for this information by emailing us at privacy@jdsupra.com or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

Some browsers have incorporated a Do Not Track (DNT) feature. These features, when turned on, send a signal that you prefer that the website you are visiting not collect and use data regarding your online searching and browsing activities. As there is not yet a common understanding on how to interpret the DNT signal, we currently do not respond to DNT signals on our site.

Access/Correct/Update/Delete Personal Information

For non-EU/Swiss residents, if you would like to know what personal information we have about you, you can send an e-mail to privacy@jdsupra.com. We will be in contact with you (by mail or otherwise) to verify your identity and provide you the information you request. We will respond within 30 days to your request for access to your personal information. In some cases, we may not be able to remove your personal information, in which case we will let you know if we are unable to do so and why. If you would like to correct or update your personal information, you can manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard. If you would like to delete your account or remove your information from our Website and Services, send an e-mail to privacy@jdsupra.com.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our Privacy Policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use our Website and Services following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, your dealings with our Website or Services, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

JD Supra Cookie Guide

As with many websites, JD Supra's website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our "Website") and our services (such as our email article digests)(our "Services") use a standard technology called a "cookie" and other similar technologies (such as, pixels and web beacons), which are small data files that are transferred to your computer when you use our Website and Services. These technologies automatically identify your browser whenever you interact with our Website and Services.

How We Use Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

  1. Improve the user experience on our Website and Services;
  2. Store the authorization token that users receive when they login to the private areas of our Website. This token is specific to a user's login session and requires a valid username and password to obtain. It is required to access the user's profile information, subscriptions, and analytics;
  3. Track anonymous site usage; and
  4. Permit connectivity with social media networks to permit content sharing.

There are different types of cookies and other technologies used our Website, notably:

  • "Session cookies" - These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari).
  • "Persistent cookies" - These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • "Web Beacons/Pixels" - Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot - For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit legal.hubspot.com/privacy-policy.
  • New Relic - For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit www.newrelic.com/privacy.
  • Google Analytics - For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit www.google.com/policies. To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout. This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the "Like," "Tweet," or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It's also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser's "Help" function or alternatively, you can visit http://www.aboutcookies.org which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.