PracticeAuditQuestion mark hangs over ‘independence’

Question mark hangs over 'independence'

Forensic accountants have defended lawyers after a survey revealed solicitors do not always encourage expert witnesses to be 'truly independent' and objective.

At a conference of expert witnesses earlier this month, an anonymous survey conducted by organisers Bond Solon found 54% of experts, one fifth of whom were forensic accountants, say lawyers do not encourage them to be independent.

More than one in ten admit solicitors have asked them to alter their opinion to improve their chances of winning.

But forensic accountant Alex Brown, of Moores Rowland, did not agree with these findings, saying ‘Nobody has suggested a change to my report that couldn’t be supported.’

Brown’s views were echoed by forensic accountants at PKF, who said large established law firms usually do their best to ensure witnesses know their duty is to the court, as established by the Woolf reforms in 1999.

However, Brown said when his findings don’t support the lawyer’s claim, his report does not make it into court.

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