Witness Box Whiteboards?

Engineers tend to think problems through as visual concepts, particularly as a concept sketch or design. This is reflected by a lawyer trained CEO of a water authority:

Now that you mention it, I have noticed that if I get between the whiteboard and my engineers they do tend to go mute.

That is, for an engineer a picture really is worth a 1,000 words. Well, at least a picture with some numbers on it.

The courts, on the other hand, use words exclusively. It can be something of an art form to read a judgment to establish the key decision point. And when an engineer is in a witness box trying to explain to two barristers and a judge (who have not done a science based subject for many years) a complex technological matter, it is small wonder that uncertainty arises in the collective mind of the court.

It would be most desirable to ensure the efficiency of the rule of law to include a whiteboard in the witness box when an engineer is on the stand.

About the Author

Richard Robinson

Richard is one of the country’s most experienced and respected risk and due diligence engineers, sharing his knowledge and expertise in books, academic papers and with some of Australia’s biggest organisations. He regularly presents on the advantages of adopting the precaution based approach to risk instead of the hazard based process, which has been dominant in Australia in recent times.

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