We’re rapidly closing on another year where circumstances have made us all think and act, yet again, a bit differently from pre-covid times. We have endured almost two years of lockdowns, restricted social activities and ever-changing rules surrounding “social distancing”. Alongside misplaced apostrophes and badly mixed metaphors, I used to chuckle at oxymorons that I read in the press and social media platforms. However, “social distancing” is surely the biggest, unsung oxymoron that has been created in the past two years! I chuckle no more.

Our actions and discussions increasingly revolve around what we see, read and hear in social media platforms. Society generally believes what is put before on these platforms, without too much in the way of challenge or kickback. Each generation absorbs and reacts to the information it receives in different ways and I accept this! The number of times I have either argued, or wished I had argued with my Mother about what she deemed to be true because she read it in the Daily Mail (a popular UK news platform) is ever increasing.

The “fact check” has become the staff that steers us through the morass of social, political and general news that is reported on. In political news, for example, an independent fact check helps us to understand the complex detail of governmental policy by separating the rhetoric from the detail and presents easily absorbed, bite-sized chunks of fact. These nuggets then become the fuel that drive our decisions in the political voting process. In many ways, in this example, the “fact check” is a very influential and important driver in shaping the actions of the masses in any political process. How reliable and without bias is the fact check though?

Media, and the spin doctors who inform and advise the media are, in my view, very cleverly attuned to the behaviours of society and it’s reliance on fact checking - to the extent that another oxymoron has been created in my view. Can we really rely on facts that we see on social media and trust that the reporting source is genuine and non-biased? Do we, as society, still retain the level of critical thinking and interpretation that is needed to assess the facts that shape how we work, play and vote?

In my profession as a construction industry expert witness, fact, my unbiased interpretation of fact and my opinions are cornerstones of the decisions made by the arbitrators and judges who are responsible for settling disputes that involve substantial amounts of money.

Each year my business, HKA, publishes a compendium of facts that we call CRUX - https://www.hka.com/crux-interactive-dashboard/. This year we have gathered real time information from over 1,400 global construction industry disputes with a combined dispute value in excess of $70 billion that HKA has helped to resolve and have distilled the facts into easily digestible, unbiased chunks of information. CRUX Insight 2021 - Operating in Uncertain Times really does present the facts without spin or bias and is essential reading for all in the construction industry.

Knowing and understanding the facts that cause disputes in the construction industry and their associated costs is surely the first step in reducing future disputes. The facts speak for themselves in CRUX.