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The Role of Expert Witnesses in International Commercial Dispute Resolution

Expert witnesses can be valuable tools for courts in dispute resolution. However, courts in different jurisdictions take different approaches to deploying expert witnesses. This event explores the role of the expert witness in a QFC-style court in international commercial litigation. In short, expert witnesses are not called as a matter of course: they are only used where the subject area is such that the court is not able itself to understand a matter without the assistance of an expert.


14:45 -15:00 Arrival of Guests

15:00 - 15:05 Opening Remarks

15:05 - 16:00 Panel Discussion

16:00 -16:15 Q&A

16:15 - 17:00 Networking


Umar Azmeh


Umar Azmeh was appointed Registrar in October 2022, and oversees the management of cases before the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre. He is also a member of the senior management team and the Judicial Advisory Board.
Umar qualified both as a barrister and a solicitor. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2009 by Middle Temple, and practised as a barrister, gaining experience in criminal and civil law, latterly conducting civil litigation on behalf of various United Kingdom government departments. He qualified as a solicitor at Hogan Lovells International LLP in 2017, where he gained experience of commercial law, including high value commercial litigation. He subsequently worked at the Court of Appeal of England and Wales (Criminal Division) which entailed advising the senior judiciary on some of the most serious and significant cases in the jurisdiction including, among others, the Lord Chief Justice, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, and the Vice-President of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).
He most recently practised at BCL Solicitors LLP in London, a leading law firm where he specialised in advising and representing high net-worth individuals and corporates in regulatory investigations brought by domestic and international regulators. Umar is also an expert in UK sanctions law, and has worked on some of the most high-profile sanctions cases in the United Kingdom.
Umar holds an LL.B. degree from King’s College, University of London, and an M.Sc. degree from the University of Oxford (Worcester College), where he graduated first in his year. He is currently a DPhil in Law Candidate at the University of Oxford (St Anne’s College), and is a regular contributor to academic and practitioner publications. Umar is also a Visiting Lecturer at The City Law Schools (City, University of London), and is a Trustee of the Sentencing Academy, a research and engagement charitable incorporated organisation dedicated to developing expert and public understanding of sentencing in England and Wales.

Sir Robin Knowles CBE

Judge of the Commercial Court

Sir Robin Knowles CBE became one of the Judges of the Commercial Court in 2015.

He is a designated Judge of the Financial List. He also sits in the Administrative Court and other King’s Bench work, including crime.

Sir Robin Knowles CBE was educated at state school before reading Law at Cambridge. He commenced practice at the Bar in 1984, and was appointed a QC (now KC) in 1999. His practice was in commercial, financial, company and insolvency law. He became the Chair of the Commercial Bar Association of England & Wales and of Advocate (the Bar Pro Bono Unit) and the National Pro Bono Centre.

In 1998 he was appointed an Assistant Recorder, a Recorder in 2000 and a Deputy High Court Judge in 2007, sitting in the Crown Court, the Chancery Division and the Commercial Court. He is a qualified mediator and has sat as an arbitrator. He became a High Court Judge in 2014.

Sir Robin is the judge with day-to-day responsibility for the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts and is a board member of the Financial Markets Law Committee. He has served as Chair of the International Committee of the Judicial College and as a member of the Civil Justice Council. Through the pandemic he chaired the cross-sector MR’s Working Group on possession proceedings. Within the HMCTS Refo

rm Programme he chairs the Litigants in Person Engagement Group (LIPEG).
Sir Robin was awarded the CBE in 2007 for service to pro bono legal services. Outside the law, before his appointment to the High Court bench, he chaired the UK umbrella charity in the children’s palliative care and children’s hospice sector.

Antonia Birt

Partner, Reed Smith LLP, Dubai

Antonia Birt acts as counsel and advocate in commercial and construction arbitrations for state, national and multi-national clients, with a focus on commercial, distribution, corporate, energy, oil and gas, infrastructure, and engineering disputes. She advises on the full cycle of complex, high-value disputes, from settlement negotiations, mediations, and other alternative dispute resolution methods to formal dispute resolution proceedings and enforcement. Antonia has represented clients under the major arbitral rules, including the ICC, LCIA, DIFC-LCIA, DIAC, ADCCAC and UNCITRAL Rules. 

Antonia also acts as arbitrator, having previously sat as sole, co-arbitrator or chair in ICC, LCIA, DIFC-LCIA and DIAC arbitrations. 

Since 2019, Antonia teaches the International Arbitration Practicum to LLM students at the Pantheon Assas University Paris II, UAE. She also acts as co-chair for both the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge MENA committee and the Campaign for Greener Arbitrations MENA committee. Antonia is a member of the IBA Commercial Arbitration Case Law Sub-Committee responsible for the UAE, having previously co-authored the original and updated editions of the IBA Guide on Arbitration, UAE law chapter.

Antonia completed an LLM at the University of Cambridge and is admitted as a Solicitor of England and Wales, Part I and II practitioner of the DIFC Courts, and a foreign practitioner in Dubai, having been based in Dubai for 13 years. 

Sirshar Qureshi

Dispute Advisory Center of Excellence Leader, EMEA Forensic Co-Leader - PwC

Sirshar leads PwC’s Dispute Advisory Centre of Excellence. He has over 30 years of experience which covers many aspects of accounting and financial matters, including loss of profits claims, construction claims, claims arising following acquisitions and sales of businesses, insurance claims, fraud prevention, integrity due diligence and financial investigation. He has prepared many expert reports for local arbitration, courts and for international arbitration cases. 

He has been instructed to act as an expert on behalf of claimants, respondents, the prosecutor's office and for Tribunals; has been involved in commercial and investor-state disputes and in criminal proceedings; and has been asked to act as an expert determinant on share purchase agreement disputes. Sirshar regularly testifies in international arbitration cases and has been instructed by many of the top international law firms. Sirshar is a regular speaker at International Arbitration conferences on the topic of damages; and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Sirshar coordinates PwC’s Global IA practice, to ensure clients find the right expert from PwC’s extensive network. 

Matthew Williams


Matthew Williams is a counsel in the Doha office with nearly a decades’ worth of experience in Qatar. Combining extensive international experience in construction, project finance and arbitration with an in-depth knowledge of the Qatari legal market, Matthew is proficient at handling complex matters and providing clients with solutions.

With respect to construction projects, Matthew regularly advises clients on their front-end negotiations, their contract management during the course of contractual dealings all the way through to dispute management and resolution. Matthew has extensive experience with the ICC, the LCIA and the QICCA.

He also advises clients in large scale infrastructure projects, including lenders and sponsors on both the project documentation and the financing and security arrangements. Matthew also advises clients in relation to Qatar law on general commercial matters, including data protection, intellectual property, employment and consumer protection.




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