Derek Nelson

Derek Nelson

Leadership – Partner & Head of Expert Services, Europe

Derek Nelson is a Fellow of The Academy of Experts, having acted as Expert Determiner, Adjudicator, Mediator and panel member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Business Arbitration Scheme (BAS), with extensive experience as an independent expert witness in litigation and domestic and international arbitration, he is currently Chairman of The Academy of Experts.

A Chartered Quantity Surveyor and a Chartered Engineering Surveyor and Commercial Manager, Derek is an Accredited and Certified Expert Witness, an Accredited Mediator and Accredited Expert Determiner.  His experience covers 40 years in the construction industry.

Derek specialises in the preparation, negotiation and settlement of claims for disruption, acceleration and prolongation and in the investigation, assessment and settlement of such claims presented by others.

Derek is widely regarded as an expert who is both well qualified and highly experienced in complex construction matters. He has acted in a number of arbitrations and conciliations relating to construction, civil engineering and process engineering disputes and acted as Claim Team Manager in major disputes internationally.  He continues to provide clients with contractual advice, claims preparation and contract administration services on major contracts worldwide.

Derek is frequently retained to prepare Independent Expert Witness Reports in Construction and Engineering disputes in Litigation, Arbitration, Adjudication and Conciliation.  He is an Accredited Expert and Fellow with both the Academy of Experts and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, as well as a Certified Expert Witness through Cardiff University/Bond Solon, who has been appointed in the role of independent expert witness on over 70 occasions addressing issues in combination of delay, quantum and disruption and the interaction of the same and has testified in both court and arbitration proceedings on such matters including giving concurrent evidence.

He has successfully acted on behalf of both Referring and Responding Party’s in a number of adjudication referrals under statutory provisions in the UK, Singapore and Malaysia, and internationally in connection with Dispute Adjudication and Dispute Review Boards and is accredited as an Expert Determiner with The Academy of Experts.

Derek is a contributing author to Delay and Disruption in Construction Contracts, 5th Edition First Supplement[1], Chapter 17, Disruption To Progress And Lost Productivity.

[1] Delay and Disruption in Construction Contracts 5th ed: 1st Supplement, ISBN13: 9781138239890, Publisher: Informa Law from Routledge.

He is a regular seminar speaker and trainer on contractual problems, claims preparation, negotiation and on dispute resolution procedures.

To date, Derek’s geographical experience includes Belgium, Belize, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lao, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.


  • BSc, Bachelor of Science, Quantity Surveying, Edinburgh Napier University
  • PgDipICArb, Post Graduate Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration, Queen Mary School of International Arbitration, University of London
  • Civil Expert Witness Certificate, Cardiff University Law School – Bond Solon
  • LLM (Construction Law), Master of Laws, University of Strathclyde
  • MSc Construction Law & Dispute Resolution (Merit), King’s College London


  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators [FCIArb]
  • Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Arbitrators
  • Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors [FRICS]
  • Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors [FCInstCES]
  • Fellow of the Quantity Surveying Institute [FQSi]
  • Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute [FCMI]
  • Member of the Association for Project Management [MAPM]
  • Member of the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International [MAACEi] and Certified Cost Professional [CCP]
  • Fellow of The Academy of Experts [FAE] and Qualified Dispute resolver [QDR]
  • Member Dispute Resolution Board Foundation
  • Panel Arbitrator Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Business Arbitration Scheme (CIArb BAS)
  • Current Chairman and Fellowship Assessor with The Academy of Experts
  • Appointed to the Singapore International Mediation Centre Panel of Experts
  • Appointed to the Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s User’s Council
  • Member Society for Construction Law (UK, founding member Singapore)


Presently Partner and Head of Expert Services, Europe at HKA, Derek Nelson is a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and a Chartered Engineering Surveyor with over 35 years’ experience of the construction and engineering industry in both client and contractor organisations.

Possessing a Masters’ Degree in Construction Law and a Degree in Quantity Surveying, Derek has held senior roles with both a major international contractor and with a major developer.  In relation to these positions Derek had responsibility for advising on and managing commercial and contractual issues, the negotiation, agreement and placing of main and subcontract packages and the management of a regional commercial team.

In his present role, Derek is tasked with the effective management and delivery of commissions undertaken by HKA’s Global Expert Group involving the direction and co-ordination of both in-house technical staff and resources employed directly by the Client, to ensure the best possible outcome.

He has extensive experience of providing a variety of construction cost, commercial, contract and dispute related services; supporting clients in the international arena by providing strategic independent expert advice or acting as an Expert Witness in the event of litigation and arbitration or other formal dispute resolution process on their international projects.

Derek has a wide range of experience at various stages of the construction process from inception to settlement of disputes on claims and final accounts.  With extensive geographic experience across Europe and Asia Derek has detailed knowledge of various domestic and international based standard forms of contract as well as bespoke forms coupled with experience of a variety of methods of measurement.

With over 35 years as a quantity surveyor working on or providing advice in relation to international projects, Derek’s expertise is in matters of quantity surveying practice, valuation, damages, contract administration, contract management, commercial management and cost management in connection with on- and off-shore construction and engineering projects.  That contract and quantum capability is married to his planning and delay analysis experience.

Derek’s academic and professional qualifications coupled with his extensive and detailed experience of the construction process has led him to be appointed as an Independent Expert Witness both in Europe and Asia and he is often called upon to undertake independent reviews of projects in the role of Project Neutral.

In undertaking independent reviews in the role of project neutral, Derek blends technical, contractual and commercial analysis with his accredited mediation skills to help parties recognise the value of their relationships and reach a fair negotiated settlement of current project issues swiftly, inexpensively and without contention.  That approach is further enhanced by setting an agreed strategy between the parties for taking the project forward to successful delivery.

Retained jointly by the Parties Derek objectively assesses the issues between the Parties and presents his findings to both parties.  On the basis of his findings Derek assists in moving projects towards a negotiated settlement of live issues and sets a framework for delivering the balance of the project.  This process allows both parties to maintain control of the process, the resultant settlement of live issues and strengthens the co-operation and mutual benefits of collaborative working across the project team.

Following the initial appointment to undertake an independent review and act as Project Neutral Derek is often retained to provide a Project Management Oversight function.


WWL – Recognised every year since its inception 2016, in 2020 Derek was listed as a Global Leader in the Construction Expert Witness category and one of the world’s foremost consulting experts in the areas of: Thought Leader – Construction; Global Leader – Construction Expert Witness 2020, Construction – Quantum & Delay 2020; Global Leader Arbitration Expert Witness 2019; Global Leader Experts – Construction – Quantum & Delay 2019.

  • Thought Leaders – Construction Experts 2020. WWL says “Derek Nelson is a ‘thorough’ expert with the innate ability ‘to react quickly and master a lot of material within a short time'”.
  • Thought Leaders – Construction 2019. WWL says “Derek Nelson is commended for his ‘professionalism and thoroughness in evaluation and analysis’ as well as ‘the breadth and depth of his experience'”.
  • Global Leader – Construction Expert Witnesses 2020. WWL says “Derek Nelson is a ‘thorough’ expert with the innate ability ‘to react quickly and master a lot of material within a short time'”.
  • Experts – Construction – Quantum & Delay 2020. WWL says “Derek Nelson’s ‘professionalism, depth of experience and thoroughness in evaluation and analysis’ is heralded by impressed respondents, with one effusing: ‘In short, he is all you would want in an expert – a true master'”.
  • Global Leader – Arbitration Expert Witnesses 2019. WWL says “Derek Nelson ‘performs well under cross-examination’ according to respondents who praise his ‘clear and well-researched reports'”.
  • Global Leader – Experts – Construction – Quantum & Delay 2019. WWL says “Derek Nelson is a highly skilled expert with extensive experience of working on quantum and delay matters in mediation, arbitration and litigation proceedings”.

Previous testimonials: Derek Nelson is commended for his “professionalism and thoroughness in evaluation and analysis” as well “the breadth and depth of his experience”. Derek “performs well under cross-examination” according to respondents who praise his “clear and well-researched reports”. The “impressive” Derek Nelson is a “much respected” figure in the market, commended by respondents for his outstanding work dealing with quantum, delay and disruption disputes.  The “highly respected” Derek Nelson is recognised for his “depth and breadth of technical know-how and industry experience” when it comes to complex construction disputes.  Derek Nelson has a broad international practice and impresses peers with his “high- quality reports, well substantiated conclusions and excellent performance under cross-examination”. Derek Nelson “performs well in cross-examinations” and offers “professional and consistently high-quality work” whilst referred to as “usually the quickest to comprehend the crux of a matter and from there he offers and communicates the practical options or solutions”.  Derek is “a gifted quantum expert” that is commended for his “vigilance” during construction disputes. Nelson’s technical background coupled with his “intimate knowledge of international construction law and arbitration hearings” ensure that he is “highly sought after” to testify in disputes.