Topical issues from the world of Forensic Accounting
By Shaun Walbridge
In 1989 the Lord Chancellor approved the formation of the Judicial Committee of The Academy of Experts consisting of seven senior Judges representing the English, Scottish and Northern Irish Benches. In 2003, the Lord Chancellor approved inclusion of the Hong Kong Bench followed by approval for the Singapore Bench in 2019. In the last 30 years it has rendered invaluable assistance in the promotion and improvement of standards.
In Civil Litigation one of the most valuable tools for the parties and especially the courts is the Joint Statement of Experts which results from the Meeting of Experts. These Meetings, usually court ordered, go under a variety of different labels – Meetings; Conferences; Conclaves; Discussions and others – however in essence they are all Meetings of Experts. For ease of multi-jurisdictional reading they are referred to in this Guidance as ‘Meetings’. Similarly the words Claimant and Defendant are used irrespective of jurisdictional labels such as Claimant, Pursuer and Respondent.
The purpose of these Meetings is to produce a Joint Statement showing the Expert issues they agree and those which they do not agree and the reasons they cannot agree. Although most Meetings in Common Law jurisdictions are ‘Without Prejudice’, the Joint Statement once signed by the Experts is an ‘Open’ document which will be for the benefit of the Court as well as the parties.
Meetings are intended to be ‘technical’ meetings of professionals of like discipline and not adversarial or partisan. The rules governing Meetings and Joint Statements are very similar in most of the jurisdictions. Although this Guidance is focussed on Court Ordered Meetings, it is likely to be applicable to Tribunal or Arbitrator directed Meetings.
This Guidance is intended primarily to apply to adversarial Common Law Civil Litigation. Other proceedings for example in the Family Courts or in Public Inquiries, may have different requirements although the principles may be of assistance.