Litigation Support: How Does It Work?

David Bristow is the Managing Director of Simmonds & Bristow. David is also an experienced Expert Witness in the Planning and Environment Court who has extensive experience supporting clients who have found themselves in difficult situations. David leads the Litigation Support practice at S&B.

Here is a quick Q&A conducted with David Bristow

David, can you tell us a bit about your background?

I’m a third generation water engineer, with a Bachelor in Engineering from the University of Queensland. I’ve been kicking around for more than 30 years now, with experience in water and wastewater engineering throughout Australia, PNG, Indonesia and the South Pacific.

I’m a member of the Institute of Engineers Australia, the Chemical College of IEAust, The Executive Connection and the Australian Water Association. I’m also a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland, and an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

You’re also a registered and chartered professional engineer?

I am indeed.

Can you tell us a bit about your areas of expertise?

My stock in trade has been in the design, procurement, construction and operation of water and wastewater collection, treatment, storage and reticulation systems. I’ve made it my business to become experienced across a wide range of technologies and operating environments. I find that level of diversification is the best way to be of service to my clients.

I have been heavily involved in setting national water industry competency standards and am regularly called in to give expert testimony to the Supreme Court and Planning and Environment Courts across Australia, as well as the Building Services Tribunal in areas of water quality, storm water, groundwater, sewage, water supply and water recycling.

What does it mean to you to offer Litigation Support to our clients?

A large number of the clients I work with in this area are discussing future developments and whether or not they are likely to cause environmental harm. It is my job to take a look at the situation and to offer expert advice and testimony about whether or not I think that is the case. This accounts for about 80% of the litigation support practice.

The remaining 20% of the practice relates to cases where real environmental harm has been caused. This is the area of our business where we offer support to clients who are at their most vulnerable. Clearly, when they reach out to me, things have not gone the way they ought to, either in terms of actual or alleged violations or the EPA. For example, my task may be to provide an opinion and expert testimony, sometimes including analytical services and reports.

Regardless of the type of case, I am assisted in this work my my very capable staff in the Engineering and Scientific Services team ,who have their own unique expertise.

Ultimately, I see this service as the opportunity to offer realistic and fair insight, opinion and support in a way that allows our clients to best more forward, regardless o what has happened in the past or where they find themselves at the moment.

What general advice would you give to clients who find themselves thinking “What do I do now”?

Do not allow yourselves to be intimidated into silence. Things do happen, they do go wrong and when they do, inaction can seem very appealing. It is far better, in terms of the environment, in terms of dealing with the DEHP, in terms of protection your reputation and your business, to reach out and get the support you need. You do not have to go at it alone!