Hot-tubbing and group peer review of expert’s reports

What is hot-tubbing but group peer review? And if group therapy is good when we’re down in the dumps then group peer review – hot-tubbing – is good when we’re in dispute.

Hot-tubbing with experts and their reports is increasingly recognized as a good way to resolve a dispute. (Refs 1 and 2) If the reports were peer reviewed before they were taken into the tub, so much the better.

Hot tubbing involves experts retained by different parties to a dispute getting together, reviewing each other’s report and agreeing a single report. Also noting where they can’t agree. It’s getting more popular in Canada and the UK and is widely accepted in New Zealand and Australia. Not so much in the adversarial U.S. of A.

Peer review involves a similarly qualified person(s) thoroughly and objectively evaluating an investigation of something and the conclusions drawn. For example, the cause of a failure or accident in the built environment. Sometimes the persons involved are not known to one another. Peer review has been around a long time in science and increasingly relied on in engineering.

I thought, if both are good, get them together in the hot-tub – experts with peer reviewed reports. But watch carefully and don’t let them in unless their forensic investigations and reports have been peer reviewed.

It’s interesting, that as good as it is, the hot-tub process did not involve experts in it’s development. (Ref. 4) Get experts involved now in the hot-tub process and perhaps we can tweak it from the inside to another level of excellence.


  1. Biased experts cured with a soak in the hot tub. Posted January 31, 2017 This is a real good read
  2. “Hot-tubbing” experts reduce the cost of civil litigation and ensure objectivity. Posted March 31, 2018 Another good read
  3. A Bundle of Blogs: On the need for peer review in forensic engineering and expert services. Posted November 19, 2019
  4. Corbin, Ruth M., The Hot-tub Alternative to Adversarial Expert Evidence, The Advocates Journal, Spring, 2014 (Dr. Corbin is Chair, Corbin Partners Inc., Ontario)

(Posted by Eric E. Jorden, M.Sc., P.Eng. Consulting Professional Engineer, Forensic Engineer, Geotechnology Ltd., Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada July 23, 2021   

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