Raiders of the lost archives
What are you doing to help your clients benefit from expert advice during a dispute, and even after it?
It never ceases to amaze me how much information an expert must wade through during a case. The opinions they independently formulate generate further volumes, all on matters that may recur across the upstream energy business.
The method by which an expert arrives at an opinion is more rigorous, exhaustive, and open to scrutiny than most types of review conducted during business as usual. These are valuable insights. What happens to all that knowledge after the case is completed?
If the dispute goes to court, the reports are of course a matter of public record. In an arbitration, however, the proceedings are usually confidential. Awards, and the reasons for them, are kept secret except to say that the outcome was favorable or not.
At the end of an arduous fight, companies are usually relieved to be done with it. Few catalogue these lessons as they attempt to do at the end of a complex project. For them, any expert output is consigned to the darkest reaches of the archives, like the government warehouse that swallows the ‘Lost Ark’ after Indiana Jones retrieves it from the Nazis.
“What happens to all that knowledge after the case is completed?”
But what about the other parties? The knowledge is retained by the legal team, for whom case outcomes no doubt form part of your shared organizational learning experience. These learnings are also valuable for the expert. Patterns recur, so there’s a good chance similar circumstances will arise at a future point.
Our ‘virtuous circle’
At Epeus, besides providing expert opinions on disputes, we offer insights directly to clients on their large complex projects. All this knowledge is valuable, if you can make sense of the context and apply them.
The forensic approach we take in disputes adds an increased layer of detail to our ‘day job’. After anonymizing the reports, such knowledge becomes useful for both for future dispute cases as a point of reference and for day-to-day projects as a set of ‘known risks’.
What should you take from this? First, advise your clients to hang on to the expert a little longer than the end of the case to aid knowledge transfer after it has been captured in expert reports and transcripts. This way, unlike Major Eaton in the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark, clients can truly say, ‘We have top men working on it…right now.’
Also, when you talk to clients about their disputes, consider the value you might add for them by recommending us to help with their ongoing projects.