In recent years, the issue of flammable cladding has gained significant attention in Australia and around the world due to a series of building fires and subsequent safety concerns. Lawyers must navigate through complex legalities and technicalities as legal battles ensue to hold responsible parties accountable for the installation of dangerous cladding materials. To assist with this they engage expert witnesses, including fire safety engineers like Christina Knorr (CJK Fire & Safety). Expert witnesses provide their knowledge and specialised insights to help the Court understand the technical aspects of the case to make informed, binding judicial decisions.

When lawyers seek the expertise of a professional in a cladding case, they ask for specific information essential to establishing liability and quantifying the extent of damages. Questions posed to the expert witness may revolve around technical aspects, including the specific properties of the cladding, its fire resistance, the installation process, the potential fire risks and who was responsible for ensuring compliance with the relevant building codes and regulations at the time.

In responding to these questions, expert witnesses must maintain a balanced approach that is accurate and understandable. They should provide clear, objective, and scientifically supported explanations, avoiding technical jargon where possible. It is essential for the expert to rely on factual evidence, data, and their professional experience while appropriately acknowledging any limitations in their understanding or if the question is outside their area of expertise.

Testing and test certificates can play a vital role a cladding case. It is imperative that the expert witness refers to the correct test certificate for a product. Cases can and have been lost due to incorrect test data.

Expert witnesses are held to high expectations due to their exceptional technical knowledge and are expected to form their own conclusions, ensuring they have no reliance on assumptions based on assumptions. Their opinion must be based solely on verifiable facts and not conjecture. They must ensure they conduct research into the specifics of each case as every building and situation is unique including building fire safety measures and Performance Solutions.

In many cases, cladding replacements have been carried out without adequate research into the materials being used or the fire safety installations and other fire engineering elements applicable. This has cost building owners so much more money than what they would have had to pay if a risk assessment was conducted and only partial removal was required. Inquiring into options for cladding remediation can result in savings of millions of dollars and avoiding further legal disputes.

The role of the expert witness in cladding cases is integral to providing the Court with the technical knowledge required to resolve these disputes. Through their meticulous analysis, informed testimony, and commitment to factual accuracy, expert witnesses contribute significantly to the fair resolution of cladding cases and the broader goal of increasing building safety standards and the safety of all Australians.

 

Christina Knorr, is a construction litigation expert witness, bringing a wealth of knowledge to legal cases involving fire safety and fire engineering. 

Phone: (+61) 0481 402 220

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