Forensic Engineering & Expert Reports

  1. What is Forensic Engineering?
  2. What are Expert [Forensic] Reports?
  3. What are 'Engineering Experts'?
  4. What is a Forensic Investigation?
  5. I am a lawyer acting for a client who is involved in litigation and require an expert report to assist my client;  are you in a position to assist?
  6. We need an Expert Report in relation to a particular matter; can you help?
  7. My house has been damaged by works next door and I want to initiate legal proceedings; my solicitor has advised that I need an engineer’s report, what should I do?
  8. Do you have experience with mine site failures?
  9. My house has suffered damage & I think it is due to mine subsidence, can you assist?

 

  1. What is Forensic Engineering?

As defined by Wikipedia:

Forensic Engineering is the investigation of materials, products, structures or components that fail or do not operate or function as intended, causing personal injury or damage to property. The consequences of failure are dealt with by the law of product liability. The field also deals with retracing processes and procedures leading to accidents in operation of vehicles or machinery. The subject is applied most commonly in civil law cases, although it may be of use in criminal law cases. Generally, the purpose of a forensic engineering investigation is to locate the cause, or causes of failure with a view to improve performance or life of a component, or to assist a Court in determining the facts of an accident. It can also involve investigation of intellectual property claims, especially patents.”

Forensic engineering, when applied to the civil & ground engineering fields, describes the investigative work & reporting undertaken in connection with a legal dispute, insurance or civil claim or allegation of professional negligence.  A distinctive feature of ‘forensic work’ is assembly and documentation of all the relevant facts in a form that can be submitted to a Court, and an associated report prepared by a recognised expert in the field. [Back to Top]

  1. What are Expert [Forensic] Reports?

Expert reports are those which are prepared by a recognised expert, and submitted to a Court for the purposes of informing the Court as to the opinions of the expert on a particular matter. Whilst normally expert reports are prepared in accordance with specific rules & guidelines set out by the various courts, where expert advice is requested prior to the initiation of legal proceedings, expert reports can be prepared for the purposes of informing a client as to an expert’s opinion.

Irrespective of whether or not the expert report is prepared in accordance with a Court’s rules, the subsequent legal processes will usually result in the report being made available to all parties;  as such, it is important that any expert report prepared should be able to withstand scrutiny by many professionals & parties. [Back to Top]

  1. What are ‘Engineering Experts’?

In legal proceedings, an expert engineer is often engaged to provide an opinion to the Court for the purposes of informing the Court as to the facts and circumstances of a particular matter.  Whilst it is always the province of the Court to determine the ‘facts’ of a matter, it is currently very common for engineering experts to collect and document the facts in a form that can be considered by a Court.

As such, the role of an engineering expert is usually to determine and document the facts surrounding an incident / event, and to then present an opinion based on those facts.  Subsequently, the Court then makes the relevant ‘legal’ decisions as to any responsibility / liability of a person or organisation.

Engineering Experts are also:

a)   Bound by specific ‘codes of conduct’ established by various courts.

b)   Regarded by a Court as an ‘officer’ of the Court.

c)   Often work closely with insurance loss adjusters, lawyers & barristers in relation to a particular dispute, and sometimes assist with the proceedings themselves. [Back to Top]

  1. What is a Forensic Investigation?

A forensic investigation is one that is undertaken for the specific purpose of obtaining and documenting facts for the purposes of submitting evidence to a Court.  As such, the investigation always needs to be carried out methodically and carefully, as well as being documented in a form that ensures traceability of all the evidence.

In addition, as an engineering expert’s opinion will necessarily be based on the facts & matters disclosed by a forensic investigation, it is very important that the investigation disclose all the relevant facts forming the basis to the expert’s opinion.  If this is not done, during the course of the resulting legal proceedings new evidence may come to light that can cause an expert to change its opinion, with resultant legal and other difficulties for a client. [Back to Top]

  1. I am a lawyer acting for a client who is involved in litigation and require an expert report to assist my client;  are you in a position to assist?

SCE's Senior Engineers are well experienced in forensic & ground engineering, and have prepared many expert reports for litigation in relation to geotechnical & ground engineering matters.

SCE’s Senior Consultant, Andrew Shirley also has extensive experience as an expert witness, and given evidence before many courts and tribunals.

The first step in SCE providing you with assistance, is for you to provide us with some relevant documents for us to briefly peruse and then discuss the matter with you.  This initial document review and discussion can also usually be carried out for a very modest fee. [Back to Top]

  1. We need an Expert Report in relation to a particular matter; can you help?

Providing that the matter is within SCE’s expertise, SCE would normally be able to assist.

Discuss the matter with a Senior Staff member of SCE, either by phone or by attending SCE’s office at Pymble for a consultation. [Back to Top]

  1. My house has been damaged by works next door and I want to initiate legal proceedings; my solicitor has advised that I need an engineer’s report, what should I do?

    Engage SCE to undertake a site inspection as soon as possible.

    Arrange for SCE to have access to the site, and provide SCE with any plans, photographs and other documents that you might have available..[Back to Top]
  1. Do you have experience with mine site failures?

Yes we do. We have been engaged by both private clients and the Mine Subsidence Board directly to carry out forensic investigations including Chain Valley Bay on the NSW Central Coast. [Back to Top]

  1. My house has suffered damage & I think it is due to mine subsidence, can you assist?

Yes we can. We have carried out forensic investigations for insurers and loss adjusters of open cut mine sites around the country resulting in a successful outcome including mine sites at Rolleston and Isaac Plains in Queensland and are currently engaged on a seawall collapse at Koolan Island mine site in Western Australia and a site in Victoria. [Back to Top]