Gervase MacGregor
Firm:
Office:
55 Baker Street
W1U 7EU
City:
London
Country:
England
Tel:
+44 20 7893 2570
Fax:
+44 20 7487 3686

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders Global Elite

Gervase is the head of international advisory, risk and quality at BDO LLP. He has extensive experience of international arbitrations, having worked on cases in London, Geneva, Zurich and Paris, and acted as expert witness in hundreds of legal actions. His main areas of expertise are in the field of natural resources, particularly oil and gas claims. Prior to joining BDO, he worked as a petroleum geologist in the North Sea, Australia and West Africa.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a forensic accountant?

In 1985, I was involved in a case where a client was in a hostile takeover bid of a company wanting a great purchase (a cash black hole). This turned into a negligence case known as the famous Caparo case.

Which case has been your most interesting so far and why?

My most interesting case took place over eight years, and began with an investigation in an accounting black hole in a share purchase case. Extensive fraud was uncovered over the course of this forensic investigation, and the evidence I helped assemble managed to get the financial controller to confess to fraudulent back-control and accounting practices. It went to court four years after initial proceedings, and was ultimately a successful case in court. It was after the court award of over US$100 million that the real battle began. The American parent company had, in the course of proceedings, isolated assets from the company embroiled in legal proceedings, so I was a part of the team that spent nearly four years investigating the parent company in order to execute the court award.

What excites you the most about your current role?

I am very fortunate in that I get to work on some very interesting cases, with some fantastically skilled people and very good law firms. Bilateral treaty arbitration cases, in particular, are incredibly exciting for me as they provide a great intellectual challenge for a practitioner, with many moving parts to manage – especially the energy-related cases. Furthermore, you are coming up against individuals in these cases with all kinds of specialities and skills, which gives an added layer of complexity.

What are the main challenges BDO faces in the present market? As head of the firm’s forensic services group, how will you tackle them?

There is a big movement in investigative work towards having very deep technological skills. This involves a great deal of IT investment in the sector. You can spend a lot of money on software for no good return if you do not have the correspondingly skilled people integrated into that system. The key to addressing this development is having sufficient knowledge of the industry and working with the best people in the field.

How do you prepare for giving expert testimony as an expert witness?

You need to know your report thoroughly: its strengths and weaknesses. One should also be sure to know the appendices and footnotes in depth. If there are mistakes in these details, you will be picked up on them. Giving expert evidence also requires a great deal of mental preparation and a good state of mind to be effective. Ultimately, you will feel more comfortable if you have a grasp of the detail of a case. Furthermore, never trust someone who says they have no nerves before giving expert testimony, because it is always a nervous process.

Which skills are key to have as a forensic accountant in today’s market?

You must absolutely have a high degree of numeracy, preferably with practical experience of accounting and auditing. There are a number of practitioners who approach cases with an entirely theoretical framework, with no experience brought to the case. This does not bring any expertise or insight to an individual case, and the work suffers for it. Attention to detail is always key – what is even more so is the ability to construct the large picture from the detail of the numerical narrative.

How do you think the practice will change over the next five years?

The impact of technology will change the practice the most. Investor treaty work has only just started in the market, and the impact of the Achmea ruling from the EU will not stop these disputes. Brexit will also give rise to interesting disputes in the future for practitioners like myself to work on.

You have had a very distinguished career to date. What would you like to achieve that you have not already?

I feel very lucky that over 30 years I have worked on some fascinating cases with some of the most talented, hardworking and skilful people across multiple industries and sectors. I am reaping the benefits of that experience now and enjoy my work a great deal. As such, I would be happy to continue simply working on cases of a similar calibre as in the past, with equally skilled professionals. This will provide the intellectual challenges I have come to really enjoy in my work.

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Gervase is the head of international advisory, risk and quality at BDO LLP. Gervase is one of the most experienced accounting expert witnesses in the UK and has extensive experience of international arbitrations. He has worked on cases in London (LCIA and ICC), Stockholm (SCC), Geneva (ICC), Paris (ICC, ICSID), Zurich (ICC, ad hoc Cantonal) and Rotterdam (NAI). He has also worked on cases before the Court of First Instance of the European Communities, the High Court in London, the Copyright Tribunal and the Restrictive Practices Court. He has acted as expert witness in hundreds of legal actions and has given oral evidence 45 times.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO FOCUS MUCH OF YOUR PRACTICE ON DISPUTES WORK?

My first forensic jobs were disputes – the case that became known as Caparo, then recovery actions in a very large fraud, a cross-undertaking in damages arising from a Mareva injunction and then the Maxwell prosecutions. There was plenty of investigative work in those cases but they all ended up in court. I then spent five years working on claims for the United Nations Compensation Commission. So a long history of disputes.

HOW HAS THE COMPETITION FOR EXPERT WORK IN THIS FIELD DEVELOPED SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER?

There is more expert witness work involving finance – so there is far more work around than 25 years ago and with that, the competition has grown, especially with the boutiques. Some firms have left the field because you do need scale to do the large cases. Others have scaled down because of conflict issues. The financial expert witness is more accepted as a necessity in large commercial cases and 25 years on we have a number of very experienced practitioners. The landscape has completely changed.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A GOOD EXPERT WITNESS?

Independence is the key as is understanding why you are there giving evidence. Clearly being numerate is absolutely key, but you need to be comfortable speaking succinctly.

SINCE YOU BEGAN PARTICIPATING IN ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS, HOW WOULD YOU SAY THE ROLE OF THE EXPERT WITNESS HAS DEVELOPED?

The opening presentation has become key and I think that’s a very good thing. I first saw it used by PwC in an NAI dispute 15 years ago and resolved to use it in my next hearing. There were complaints (from the other side) but the tribunal allowed it and I would always recommend it.

Witness conferencing has developed as well and can be useful when controlled.

The use of more than one expert giving evidence at the same time is interesting and can also work well.

Technology means we have giving evidence by video – I am not a fan of that. I recently did a witness conference where I was in the hearing in person and the expert for the other side joined by Skype.

YOU ARE WELL KNOWN FOR YOUR STRONG EXPERTISE ACROSS THE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES SECTORS. TO WHAT EXTENT IS ARBITRATION A PREFERRED FORM OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN THIS SPACE?

Arbitration is definitely the preferred option – down to the dispute resolution clauses written into contracts many years ago. I am involved in a couple of High Court energy sector cases, but it’s rare.

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE DISPUTE YOU HAVE WORKED ON?

A defamation case. A writer of romantic novels had been defamed by a well-known academic in a “Masterclass” column on writing. He had accused her of plagiarising one of his works. The column caused her to suffer from writer’s block and I acted for the newspaper in assessing her special damages claim for lost earnings – which were considerable as she wrote under more than one name, and that was the problem for the academic. He himself had admitted that his work was based on a novel by a well-known Victorian author but said in his article that the romantic novelist would not even have heard of her. It turned out that under her real name the romantic novelist was president of the Victorian author’s appreciation society.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST SUCCESS?

What I am proudest of is the large number of people who started off with me as ex-auditors from my firm, earned their spurs in the BDO forensic department and have gone on to have great forensic careers.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Expert Witnesses

Gervase is the head of international advisory, risk and quality at BDO LLP. Gervase is one of the most experienced accounting expert witnesses in the United Kingdom and has extensive experience of international arbitrations. He has worked on cases in London (LCIA and ICC), Stockholm (SCC), Geneva (ICC), Paris (ICC, ICSID), Zurich (ICC, ad hoc Cantonal) and Rotterdam (NAI). He has also worked on cases before the Court of First Instance of the European Communities, the High Court in London, the Copyright Tribunal and the Restrictive Practices Court. He has acted as expert witness in hundreds of legal actions and has given oral evidence 45 times.

In 1997 he started working as an external adviser to the United Nations Compensation Commission in respect of compensation claims against Iraq arising from its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. He considered a large number of claims in the oilfield and related energy sectors and was a lead adviser in respect of the Kuwait oil sector’s $23 billion claim for compensation following the blowing up of its oil wells, plus a number of other claims in upstream and downstream operations, and oilfield capital expenditure in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the PNZ between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (both onshore and offshore) and Jordan.

He is currently sitting as an arbitrator in an SCC arbitration and has acted on many occasions as the independent expert in expert determinations.

He is the author of various books, including Expert Accounting Evidence, Solicitors Accounts and Surveyors, Architects and Estate Agents. He has also written numerous articles for Accountancy and other technical publications.

His main areas of expertise are in the field of natural resources, particularly oil and gas claims, state/operator disputes, in takeover disputes, acting on regulatory matters and in valuing companies and damages.

Prior to joining BDO he worked as a petroleum geologist in the North Sea, Australia and West Africa.

He has investigated and reported on the affairs of the MG Rover Group and Phoenix Venture Holdings on behalf of the Secretary of State and DTI.

His experience includes acting as an accountant instructed by the UNCC to advise panels on determination of claims against Iraq arising from the Gulf War 1990–1991; acting as an expert for the MCPS-PRS Alliance in the Copyright Tribunal relating to online music; acting in relation to loss of profits (among other issues) arising from the takeover of ERF by MAN (2001–2007, instructed on behalf of MAN); acting as an expert witness on behalf of the director general of Fair Trading in respect of the removal of resale price maintenance on OTC medicines; acting for the UK energy regulator on the accounting disclosures by the large six energy companies; and monitoring trustee for competition regulators.

WWL says: Gervase MacGregor is highly sought after by clients who commend his "strong insight and attention to detail" as well as his "impressively calm manner when giving testimony" in arbitration proceedings.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Arbitration which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Asset Recovery: Experts

Gervase is the head of international advisory, risk and quality at BDO International. He specialises in forensic investigations and litigation support, including expert determinations.

Gervase is one of the most experienced accounting expert witnesses in the UK and takes an active role in legal cases and investigations. He has worked on hundreds of forensic investigations, including the initial investigation into the leading case of Caparo. He has given evidence on a large number of occasions in the High Court, the County Court, the Crown Court and the District Court of South Manhattan, and in international arbitrations.

He is the author of various books, including Expert Accounting Evidence, Solicitors’ Accounts and An Industry Accounting and Auditing Guide on the Solicitors’ Account Rules of 1991 and the Accountants Report Rules of 1991. This latter book was based upon years of experience investigating instances of fraud in the legal sector in the 1990s and his work with the Law Society at that time on SAR issues. He has also written numerous articles for Accountancy magazine and other technical publications.

His main areas of expertise are oil and gas claims and commercial claims by corporate bodies.

WWL says: Gervase MacGregor is “an incredibly competent expert” who boasts a great international reputation for his outstanding work in the field of forensic investigations.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Asset Recovery which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Consulting Experts: Experts - Investigations - Forensic Accountants

Gervase is the head of international advisory, risk and quality at BDO LLP. Gervase is one of the most experienced accounting expert witnesses in the UK and has extensive experience of international arbitrations. He has worked on cases in London (LCIA and ICC), Stockholm (SCC), Geneva (ICC), Paris (ICC, ICSID), Zurich (ICC, ad hoc Cantonal) and Rotterdam (NAI). He has also worked on cases before the Court of First Instance of the European Communities, the High Court in London, the Copyright Tribunal and the Restrictive Practices Court. He has acted as expert witness in hundreds of legal actions and has given oral evidence 50 times.

In 1997 he started working as an external adviser to the United Nations Compensation Commission in respect of compensation claims against Iraq arising from its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. He considered a large number of claims in the oilfield and related energy sectors and was a lead adviser in respect of the Kuwait oil sector's US$23 billion claim for compensation following the blowing-up of its oil wells.  Since then he has worked on a large number of disputes in the energy sector.

He is the author of various books, including Expert Accounting EvidenceSolicitors Accounts and SurveyorsArchitects and Estate Agents. He has also written numerous articles for Accountancy and other technical publications.

His main areas of expertise are in the field of natural resources, particularly oil and gas claims; state/operator disputes; takeover disputes; regulatory matters; and valuing companies and damages.

Prior to joining BDO he worked as a petroleum geologist in the North Sea, Australia and West Africa. He has investigated and reported on the affairs of the MG Rover Group and Phoenix Venture Holdings on behalf of the Secretary of State and DTI.

His experience includes acting as an accountant instructed by the UNCC to advise panels on determination of claims against Iraq arising from the Gulf War (1990–1991); acting as an expert for the MCPS-PRS Alliance in the Copyright Tribunal relating to online music; acting in relation to loss of profits (among other issues) arising from the takeover of ERF by MAN (2001–2007, instructed on behalf of MAN); acting as an expert witness on behalf of the Director General of Fair Trading in respect of the removal of resale price maintenance on OTC medicines; acting for the UK energy regulator on the accounting disclosures by the large six energy companies; and monitoring trustee for competition regulators.

WWL says: Gervase MacGregor is “very well versed” in complex forensic investigations and peers “would certainly recommend him” for his excellent work in the space.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Consulting Experts which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Consulting Experts: Experts - Investigations - Asset Recovery Experts

Gervase is the head of international advisory, risk and quality at BDO International. He specialises in forensic investigations and litigation support, including expert determinations.

Gervase is one of the most experienced accounting expert witnesses in the UK and takes an active role in legal cases and investigations. He has worked on hundreds of forensic investigations, including the initial investigation into the leading case of Caparo. He has given evidence on a large number of occasions in the High Court, the County Court, the Crown Court and the District Court of South Manhattan, and in international arbitrations.

He is the author of various books, including Expert Accounting EvidenceSolicitors’ Accounts and An Industry Accounting and Auditing Guide on the Solicitors’ Account Rules of 1991 and the Accountants Report Rules of 1991. This latter book was based upon years of experience investigating instances of fraud in the legal sector in the 1990s and his work with the Law Society at that time on SAR issues. He has also written numerous articles for Accountancy magazine and other technical publications.

His main areas of expertise are oil and gas claims and commercial claims by corporate bodies.

WWL says: Gervase Macgregor is highly respected in the London market for his outstanding work handling international investigations and asset tracing matters

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Consulting Experts which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Consulting Experts: Experts - Financial Advisory and Valuation - Quantum of Damages

Gervase is the head of international advisory, risk and quality at BDO LLP. Gervase is one of the most experienced accounting expert witnesses in the UK and has extensive experience of international arbitrations. He has worked on cases in London (LCIA and ICC), Stockholm (SCC), Geneva (ICC), Paris (ICC, ICSID), Zurich (ICC, ad hoc Cantonal) and Rotterdam (NAI). He has also worked on cases before the Court of First Instance of the European Communities, the High Court in London, the Copyright Tribunal and the Restrictive Practices Court. He has acted as expert witness in hundreds of legal actions and has given oral evidence 50 times.

In 1997 he started working as an external adviser to the United Nations Compensation Commission in respect of compensation claims against Iraq arising from its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. He considered a large number of claims in the oilfield and related energy sectors and was a lead adviser in respect of the Kuwait oil sector's US$23 billion claim for compensation following the blowing-up of its oil wells.  Since then he has worked on a large number of disputes in the energy sector.

He is the author of various books, including Expert Accounting EvidenceSolicitors Accounts and SurveyorsArchitects and Estate Agents. He has also written numerous articles for Accountancy and other technical publications.

His main areas of expertise are in the field of natural resources, particularly oil and gas claims; state/operator disputes; takeover disputes; regulatory matters; and valuing companies and damages.

Prior to joining BDO he worked as a petroleum geologist in the North Sea, Australia and West Africa. He has investigated and reported on the affairs of the MG Rover Group and Phoenix Venture Holdings on behalf of the Secretary of State and DTI.

His experience includes acting as an accountant instructed by the UNCC to advise panels on determination of claims against Iraq arising from the Gulf War (1990–1991); acting as an expert for the MCPS-PRS Alliance in the Copyright Tribunal relating to online music; acting in relation to loss of profits (among other issues) arising from the takeover of ERF by MAN (2001–2007, instructed on behalf of MAN); acting as an expert witness on behalf of the Director General of Fair Trading in respect of the removal of resale price maintenance on OTC medicines; acting for the UK energy regulator on the accounting disclosures by the large six energy companies; and monitoring trustee for competition regulators.

WWL says: Gervase MacGregor is “a very experienced expert” who is “excellent” when it comes to handling complex business and damages valuations.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Consulting Experts which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Investigations: Forensic Accountants

Gervase is the head of international advisory, risk and quality at BDO International. He specialises in forensic investigations and litigation support, including expert determinations.

Gervase is one of the most experienced accounting expert witnesses in the UK and takes an active role in legal cases and investigations. He has worked on hundreds of forensic investigations, including the initial investigation into the leading case of Caparo. He has given evidence on a large number of occasions in the High Court.

He has undertaken investigations at the (then) FSA, for the accounting regulator the FRC, was the accounting inspector on the DTI inquiry into MG Rover and has undertaken many investigations for companies into alleged fraud and the malpractice.  He investigated the allegations of financial impropriety in the Network Rail inquiry and has undertaken independent investigations on behalf of audit committees and boards into whistleblowing allegations and similar complaints.

He is the author of various books, including Expert Accounting Evidence, Solicitors’ Accounts and An Industry Accounting and Auditing Guide on the Solicitors’ Account Rules of 1991 and the Accountants Report Rules of 1991. This latter book was based upon years of experience investigating instances of fraud in the legal sector in the 1990s and his work with the Law Society at that time on SAR issues. He has also written numerous articles for Accountancy magazine and other technical publications.

WWL says: Gervase MacGregor is a vastly experienced accounting expert witness who receives wide-ranging endorsements for his “superb judgement and clear style of delivery”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Investigations which can be purchased from our Shop.

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