Expert Witness

History and Experience

Ian Cullen has been providing expert witness services since 1982, and has been instructed to prepare reports and act in the largest number of court cases for any general practice surveyor in Hong Kong over the last 40 years.

Over 200 reports have been prepared for either :

  • The High Court;
  • The District Court;
  • The Lands Tribunal, or:
  • Overseas Courts, valuing Hong Kong property.
Scope of Casework

Our casework has been extremely varied in subject matter and scale. Predominantly upon capital or rental values, evidence has also been given upon boundary disputes, unauthorized building works, defects, dilapidations, and the value of companies holding HK property interests.

Landmark casework includes:

  • HCA 1589/2003 which was heard 2009 and involved a major claim for potential valuation negligence at a large, international firm. The valuation concerned a substantial retail basement premises linked to North Point MTR station, and IC&A acted for 6 years on this case. Ian Cullen's evidence on the appropriate valuation approach, what constituted relevant market sales evidence, and how that should be analyzed, plus the benchmark standard of professional surveying conduct, were all accepted by the High Court, rather than the data submitted by multiple valuers from several large corporate offices as were presented by the defendants. 

    Over $250 million of damages were awarded, and the judgment helpfully sets out very beneficial court directives upon:
    • The appropriate type and scale of comparables vis a vis the premises being valued;
    • The weighting to be placed on comparables, and:
    • use of check valuation by income capitalization.

    • The lengthy Judgment is accessible via link here.

  • HCA 1739/2010 - This major case, heard in 2016, required over 100 valuations of a very mixed portfolio owned by a major property development company, which again involved 6 years of processing by IC&A pre trial. Some assets were whole buildings, some sites under construction, others new complexes just being completed, plus top calibre investment properties, many on The Peak. Unusually, there were 5 valuation dates spread over 12 years. Over HK$40 billion of assessments were prepared, and Ian Cullen's evidence was accepted in the High Court, with over $8 billion of compensation awarded to the Plaintiff, whose legal team instructed us. 

    The judgment provides excellent rulings on important valuation issues of 'quantum discount', and whether the costs of hypothetical breakup sales of whole buildings should be included in 'market value'. This lengthy judgment is a mine of information, and a link is provided here.

Photo References

  • Left: Shun Tak Centre - Office and shopping arcade assessments completed.
  • Right: Valuation of: 500+ lots on Lantau Island.

  • HCA 2449/2013 and HCA 371/2014 were inter-related, and heard together in 2019. They involved a memorandum of agreement to acquire a 5 level retail mall, plus a 49% shareholding in the company owning an 8 level car park facility, both directly linked to the MTR. Notably different valuation approaches, and values, were filed in court, by three valuers.

    It was held Ian Cullen's comparables based method of assessment for the arcade shops was the most appropriate, and all his valuations, to totally $507 million, were fully accepted.

    Similarly, Ian's assessment of profits and investment approach to value the company's shares was deemed preferable to an accountant's methodology. Resultantly, over $164 million of damages were awarded to Plaintiff, whose legal team instructed us.

We don't restrict ourselves to our admittedly preferred casework involving large complex assessments. One litigious car park owner sued over the exact siting of a single car park boundary line, in which we were instructed by the Respondent in Court. The case of claimed encroachment/trespass into the adjoining car park space, by mere inches, was rightfully dismissed, in our considered opinion. Again Ian's evidence proved key.

Photo References

  • Left: 5 level retail arcade and 8 level car park over MTR station valued for H.C. Proceedings.
  • Right: Luxury house in N.T. valued for use in the Canadian courts.

Legal Aid Casework

We have also helped Hong Kong's less privileged, when acting for the Director of Legal Aid, in large volume of cases for parties seeking compensation through the courts. These cases involved traffic accident victims, or claimants suffering employment related injuries, and such plaintiffs are now residing in modern quality accommodation we identified and costed for acquisition, and hence were included in compensation claims. Such property related outlays represented a large element of the personal injury compensation awarded in well over 100 cases we are pleased to have processed on a pro bono basis.

Expert Witness Case Histories

A large volume of casework in which Ian Cullen has given court testimony from the witness box is shown with case content summaries via the link here. This table of cases excludes many Lands Tribunal proceedings without written judgments.

If you have a Hong Kong property related dispute or legal proceeding that requires a general practice surveyor acting as truly independent expert witness, we believe our unrivalled experience and track record make us the consultant of choice. Indeed, we are privileged to have acted with some of Hong Kong's premier legal counsel, and team of professionals, who appear to appreciate the detail and analysis of reports we have prepared, and the evidence Ian Cullen has presented to the courts:

"I have conducted major litigation in which Ian Cullen has been retained as expert witness over many years. His meticulous professionalism and grounded common sense make him the ideal expert witness. Because his groundwork is so thorough and thought through, he handles himself in the witness box with quiet but impressive assurance and his courteous responses, even when under pressure of cross-examination, commend him to judges. 

Whenever I am involved in a case that requires his expertise, he is, without question, my first (and if I have anything to do with it only) port of call."

Mr. Neville Sarony
King's Counsel; Senior Counsel
Head of π Chambers

"Professional, client focused and generally a much valued partner in presenting a case involving complex valuations"

Des Voeux Chambers

"Ian Cullen prepares detailed analytical reports, and I have cross-examined him on several of them. I hope I will never have to do it again."