Tips in Litigation Appraisal

downloadI attended a court hearing recently, and when the presiding judge read the facts of the case and the lawyer’s motion to nominate an Appraisal Commissioner, his (Judge) immediate response is “What is the qualification of Mr. Appraiser ?”

An appraiser play an integral role in every part of today’s civil litigation. Litigation appraisal involves taxation, estate planning, expropriation, litigation support, property settlement and others. That is why when selecting a real estate appraiser, a lawyer always perform comprehensive conflict-of-interest checks  on background and qualification before hiring or accepting appraisers.

This conflict of interest check is vital in cases where a lawyer is dealing with large business that offers myriad services and types of clients. While in checking the qualification of an appraiser, a lawyer does it in a profound way through the following attributes such us technical acumen, experience in appraisal, educator and communicator and readiness to appear and have demeanor in court.

Experience in Appraisal – An appraiser should have broad experience in appraisal of different types of properties such us office, retail, warehouse, industrial, apartments, hotels, memorial. Have knowledge in different type of appraisal like fee simple, leasehold or lease fee interest, insurable, retrospective, raw land development method and prospective appraisal.

Technical acumen – associated with professional experience, organizational experience for broader real estate and economic counselling skills capability to solve complex problems requires a greater depth of skills sets. Technical skills are key to an accurate and comprehensive expert report, thoughtful review and critique of the opposing expert report, depositions, and testimony.

Educator and communicator – an appraiser should be ready to explain and discuss  the report in the commissioners meeting or in an open court. A lawyer should pursue in selecting an appraiser’s prior publications and writings. The reasons for examining the expert’s writing are two-fold. First, this type of examination can help a lawyer to further determine the appraiser’s qualifications. Second, how an appraiser presented their arguments and the manner of reasoning and  arrived at their opinion. Is their analysis persuasive? Does the report and opinion make a sense to a lay person?  Have they presented their report in an easy to read and logical manner?

Appearance and demeanor – Lawyer have confidence that the expert will come across as professional and knowledgeable.  At trial or deposition, the appraiser knows the importance of establishing and maintaining credibility, presenting an appropriate appearance and demeanor, remaining composed, considering posed questions carefully, providing a simple and direct answer, giving opinions based on facts, following the standards of generally accepted appraisal practice, being impartial and not advocating for the client, and always telling the truth.

The above characteristics are interrelated. The expert’s qualifications should  matched to the demands of the case as it relates to areas such as property type, experience, or technical requirements. The expert’s ability to articulate his or her position will allow him to better convey his or her skills and qualifications to fellow commissioners, judge, lawyers and other officers of the court. Any aspiring appraiser to be part of this challenging job should muster the above attributes and be of help in our justice system.

See you in court.

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