A chasm has opened up between those who believe the sector is in need of
accreditation to help High Court judges identify forensic accoutants as reliable
witnesses, and those that believe that experience, not accreditation, speaks
No less than the chairman of KPMG’s forensic division believes accreditation
to be pointless, while his colleagues at the ICAEW are pushing ahead with plans
to offer their own institute badge of approval.
It should not be denied that the ICAEW has a commercial interest in offering
a kitemark of quality to forensic accountants first. Judges, and especially
juries, could quickly latch on to it as the brand that makes the difference
between a witness to listen to, and one whose testimony will provide the perfect
opportunity for a snooze.
What should be noted is the institute’s effort to be first to market, beat
its competitors, and in the process reinforce its position as the prestige body
Snoozing in court is never advisable - everyone hates the daydreaming juror
- but we shouldn’t ignore the full implications that introducing a new
accreditation would bring.
Having a lone voice out there offering to certify expert witnesses as wholly
dependable would immediately put the rest of the profession at a disadvantage
and possibly put at risk the course of justice.
Lets put it this way. Imagine a witness in court for the prosecution with an
ICAEW stamp of approval. He or she is there to represent his client’s views and
gives his evidence.
The defence expert witness takes the stand, but has no such certificate to
wave in the faces of the judge, or 12 good men and true. Immediately they are
prejudiced against him, and despite having appeared in two dozen court cases,
they feel the testimony may be suspect.
What to do? It’s difficult but this surely smacks of one of those occasions
that the profession should have acted as one body, offering a accreditation that
was agreed upon by all and available to all. Is it too much to ask for a little
unity when it comes to the pursuit of justice?
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