Lawyer Monthly - March 2022

What initially drewyou to specialise in the field of wood science and timber technology? I worked in the sector for a number of years, running the regional advisory services for the then Timber Research and Development Association. When the Association was privatised at the beginning of the 1990s, it seemed appropriate to start my own practice. Howmuch of thework that you do is related to providing services to the legal profession and Trading Standards Offices? About 50% of the workload of TFT Woodexperts Limited is related to legal and Trading Standards work – with the majority of that being expert witness reports. As an expert witness, what kinds of disputes are you typically called to advise on? There is no “typical” wood-based expert witness job! Each one is different, but broadly, they can be split into several categories: “Who designed or built this timber building incorrectly?”; “Who created the wrong specification or ordered the wrong timber or wood-based materials?”; “Why has this product or timber detail not performed as specified?” and even “Why have these wood-based materials gone rotten and whose fault is it?” But there are many, many more oddities – such as reporting on damage to a consignment of logs stranded on a ship in the Indian Ocean; investigating fake pallets as used in drug smuggling on behalf of the police; or checking and reporting on the many (wrong) species of timber as used in a holiday development in the Maldives, which seriously shortened the life-expectancy of the project (and subsequently gained a $50 million rebate from the developers, for our clients). What services do you provide in these cases? We undertake site investigations, analyses (wood species, treatment chemicals, etc) and full document reviews. We also give comprehensive technical explanations and prepare CPR-Part 35 reports (and occasionally criminal ones, too). What aspects of your knowledge do you help a court to understand? We explain all relevant standards and good Industry practices in clear, unambiguous 69 MAR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM EXPERT WITNESS layman’s terms, with full reasoning given for all the conclusions as given at the end of the report – sometimes including remedial recommendations if specifically requested to do so. Why is it essential to hear fromawood expert in these cases? Timber and wood-based products – and their associated treatments and processes – are very little understood in the commercial world. It is a fact that those very people who use wood (such as carpenters, joiners, builders, furniture makers, etc) have almost no clue about its technical properties, how best to employ it to good advantage, or how to avoid what are often very costly mistakes. A wood expert can explain how and why things have gone wrong and where any responsibilities or shortcomings may lie. Timber and wood-based products – and their associated treatments and processes – are very little understood in the commercial world.

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