So much litigation these days is a money game that follows fraud dollars, exposes embezzlement and sets a dollar value for damages. Some accountants serve as expert witnesses to help follow the money trail in court. But before diving into that area, CPAs can first provide litigation support that provides valuable help to attorneys and clients, without having to take the stand.
We can offer litigation support services in these areas:
- Evaluating expert testimony and finding flaws in the opposition’s analysis that can damage credibility.
- Drafting discovery requests.
- Analyzing business and insured losses.
- Breach of contract valuations.
- Gift and estate tax valuation.
- Lost profits.
- Valuation of operating businesses.
- Forensic audits, including the identification of departures from customary business practices and professional standards.
- Investigation of money laundering, embezzlement and other fraud.
- Due diligence and compliance audits.
- Personal injury claims.
- What to do before accepting an assignment
Before expecting a CPA to accept an opportunity to perform support litigation, make sure he or she has access to all pertinent documents to determine whether, in fact, the work falls under the purview of a CPA in general and fits with his or her skills and experience in particular. The lawyer should work carefully to make sure any agreement is crafted to protect the attorney work product privilege, which prevents discovery by the other side.
Draft a Letter of Engagement
This document states that the CPA is a consultant to the attorney, not to any other party to the legal action. The attorney is the client, and any contact with the CPA must be made through the attorney. Contact with any party other than the attorney may subject your work to discovery by the opposing side.
3 Types of Litigation Support
- Consultant: The accountant gives advice about facts, problems and strategy. He or she does not testify as a consultant.
- Expert witness: The CPA renders an opinion as a witness in court or during a deposition. Once a CPA is a witness, his or her work, qualifications, background and assertions can be scrutinized by the opposing side. If a CPA becomes a witness, all the work he or she did, even as a consultant, is subject to discovery.
- Other litigation services: A CPA can serve as a court-appointed expert, referee, arbitrator, special master or mediator.
Tips for Working With a CPA in Litigation Support
When forming questions for a deposition, make sure they will extract precise answers about murky areas concerning financial damages. Attorney and client should review the questions before the deposition to make sure everything is clear.
Ask for all pertinent case documents, including reports by the opposing side’s financial expert witness.
Work with the accountant to carefully analyze the financial damages report to find errors that may damage the credibility of the opposing expert witnesses and bring the parties to a quicker settlement.
We will remind you about any discrepancies you find in dates, timelines, and monetary issues in original court filings and the additional facts gathered.