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: Investigations Forensic Accountants

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.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

I joined BDO in 1982, starting off in audit and tax where I worked on everything from small accounting reconstruction jobs – which really taught me the fundamentals of accounting – to flotations and takeovers. I undertook an investigation into an “accounting blackhole” where I found an intriguing fraud which turned into the Caparo case. I was made audit partner in 1991 specialising in hotels and property companies. BDO is a great place for people to develop their own practice lines and a chance letter asking for help in a civil fraud case led to the then biggest expert witness case my firm had done, closely followed by two more. These enabled me to set up the forensic department. We then won a lot of work for the United Nations Compensation Commission assisting the assessment of damages claims against Iraq by panels of commissioners. Over the past 15 years I have worked on a variety of fascinating assignments like MG Rover, large regulatory investigations, numerous arbitrations and have served on BDO’s board and chaired the risk committee of BDO International.

WHAT DISTINGUISHES YOUR PRACTICE FROM THE COMPETITION?

We have a hands-on partner-led practice, running jobs with small groups of highly talented finance professionals, many of whom are extremely loyal and have worked with me for up to two decades. We don’t have the conflicts the Big Four have, but do have all the technical and sector benefits of a large public accounting firm.

HOW IMPORTANT IS PRESENTATION WHEN GIVING EVIDENCE ON QUANTUM?

Quantum can be complex and the reports can be lengthy. There are often many facets to a quantum claim and accountants and valuers often want to fully reference their sources – it is easy to get lost in the detail. The opening presentation – essentially an in chief conducted by the expert – is a valuable and pithy introduction to the key points of the quantum.

IN YOUR OPINION, HOW IMPORTANT IS MODELLING IN QUANTIFICATION CLAIMS?

Excel allows quantum experts to produce those multifaceted claims and, importantly, by identifying the key drivers of value and the major commercial assumptions, to focus on what is important and what changes happen to value when you change the assumptions. As such, modelling has become key in any complex calculation. I have written articles on modelling recently because I despair of situations where models aren’t swapped, or where models are only provided in PDF rather than native. I also support the view, held by a number of my BDO colleagues and at other firms, that there are rules and good practice in model design which should be followed – I think we are going in that direction.

REGULATORY-LED REMEDIATORY INVESTIGATIONS IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR HAVE REPORTEDLY CURTAILED. HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED YOUR PRACTICE?

We had a few such investigations in the UK, but they were relatively modest in size. We have not therefore had to redeploy, or even worse, make redundant lots of staff used on these jobs. I can’t think of anything worse – losing talented staff because you don’t have enough work to give them.

WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING CASE YOU HAVE WORKED ON?

MG Rover – it lasted four years. We had millions of documents to review; investigated the workings not just of a large company, but also government, with the interview of civil servants, special advisers and ministers (including the former prime minister); and produced an 800-page report – all within the public eye. Not many practising chartered accountants get criticised by Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times and Robert Peston on his BBC blog. But equally not many have Peter Mandelson take a decision based on the back of one of their reports. To start with, I had a large team undertaking document review, but as we progressed through the case worked with a small team – most of whom still work with me. The work was extremely interesting – particularly trying to understand how government works – but it was made much easier by having such a focussed and dedicated team. Without them the case would have been challenging in other ways!

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER PRACTITIONERS WHO ONE DAY HOPE TO BE IN YOUR POSITION?    

Get practical commercial experience – in the case of the large firms that usually means audit, but where else do new graduates get to understand the workings of a finance department or see how business make and lose money? Be interested in finance and commerce – damages claims are not a theoretical academic exercise. You need a great deal of single mindedness, but you also need to enjoy working with other professionals – that’s a tricky balancing act at times.

Tenacity, numeracy and an eye for detail – you need all these obvious ones, but what so many people will tell you is you need a lot of luck. I worked on Caparo because another job I was on had finished unexpectedly early. I was given the part of the investigation where the fraud had started. I did not understand some transactions I was looking at so I phoned up the owner of a business on the other side of one of the transactions who proceeded to tell me what was happening – and how the fraud worked. So there were three lots of luck there!

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 draws praise for his vast experience in international arbitration and compelling oral arguments.

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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