Dominic Wreford
Office:
The Shard
32 London Bridge Street
SE1 9SG
City:
London
Country:
England
Tel:
+44 20 7089 4910

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Dominic Wreford is the EMEA leader of Duff & Phelps’ disputes and investigations practice. Dominic has undertaken forensic accounting and commercial dispute work on a full-time basis since 1997. He has particular expertise in high-value commercial disputes, in a wide variety of industry sectors, including: technology, construction, telecommunications, energy, financial services, professional services, insurance, pharmaceuticals, public sector/government and shipping. Dominic has often given evidence both in the UK High Court and at international arbitration.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER FOCUSING ON DISPUTES AND INVESTIGATIONS WORK?

This type of work is characterised by bespoke assignments, where the subject matter and industry changes from job to job.  I have always wanted to have fresh challenges in my career – this industry constantly delivers them.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A SUCCESSFUL EXPERT WITNESS?

The ability to convey one’s professional opinion clearly in writing and with impartiality is a given. What is also needed is the ability to work closely with instructing counsel – often under demanding time constraints. I’ve found that a sense of humour, especially when under pressure, helps enormously in this.

Working closely with counsel also requires understanding the legal framework and its interaction with counsels’ needs regarding the scope of the expert report. 

Last, enjoying the process of cross-examination, while possibly slightly masochistic, is a definite help!

HOW HAS THE ROLE OF EXPERT WITNESS DEVELOPED SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR PRACTICE?

When I started my career, being an expert witness was not a full-time job. By that, I mean that individual practitioners typically had other roles that occupied most of their time, with being an expert witness a subsidiary calling.

As time has progressed, many professionals (myself included) have established practices that are predominantly or entirely based on being an expert witness. This has led to clear benefits in terms of understanding the role of the expert, as well as drafting and testimony skills that have been honed through experience. 

AS A MANAGING DIRECTOR, HOW DO YOU ENSURE THE TEAM STANDS OUT AMONG ITS COMPETITORS?

The Duff & Phelps environment is exceptionally collaborative. Being able to leverage experience from across the globe quickly and seamlessly is a key differentiator. We are also an acquisitive business and recently acquired Kroll, the leading global risk and investigations firm. This has turned us into one of the largest disputes and investigations practices in the world.

HOW HAS THE COMPETITION FOR EXPERT WITNESS WORK EVOLVED SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR CAREER?

I trained with one of the very large firms of accountants. As the disputes and investigations field developed, the large and mid-tier accounting firms created groups that began to focus on this type of work. However, issues from conflicts of interest grew and this saw the breakaway of key practitioners to form smaller boutiques. More recently, over the last 10 years or so there has been a form of consolidation such that, while some boutiques remain, there are now a number of sizeable specialist practices with a global presence, such as my firm, Duff & Phelps.

The formation of the global specialist firms has helped address the ever more detailed requirements of counsel. In addition to seeking experienced experts, legal teams are, now more than ever before, looking to identify experts with niche skillsets or deep sector knowledge. This means that often I will work together with one of our in-house industry experts.

YOU ARE WIDELY RESPECTED FOR YOUR TESTIFYING WORK IN BOTH LITIGATION AND ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS. TO WHAT EXTENT DOES YOUR APPROACH DIFFER DEPENDING ON THE FORM OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION?

Of course, many aspects are the same between the forms – for example, addressing a well-prepared cross-examination by having a thorough knowledge of the matter, one’s report and the underlying documents.

In terms of differences, first, arbitral tribunal members often have backgrounds that are directly relevant to the case – this can affect the style and content of answers to cross-examination questions put to me – answers can take their knowledge and experience into account. 

Secondly, some tribunal members, although possessing foreign-language skills far superior to my own, may not be native English speakers. I try to take care in such cases to frame responses to questions in a way that takes this into account. Although transcripts are useful, trying to ensure understanding at the time and allowing for contemporaneous follow-up questions from the tribunal is undoubtedly beneficial.

Last, the potential to be required to give direct evidence, often as a presentation, is a differentiator between the systems. However, direct evidence brings its own tension between conveying one’s opinion clearly, while not being seen as an advocate.

GIVEN THE INCREASING NUMBER OF YOUNGER EXPERTS TRYING TO BREAK INTO THE AREA, WHAT CAN SENIOR PRACTITIONERS DO TO HELP THEM STAND OUT?

I strongly believe that it is the duty of senior practitioners to bring on the next generation. It is all too easy to identify egotistical experts. However, in many cases, younger experts will have the abilities and skill sets that are perfectly suited to a matter. It is incumbent, I think, on senior experts to help promulgate this to potential clients. This is not just an aspect of being a professional helping to train and educate but is also a commercial position to take to help grow a firm’s practice by having a greater pool of more experienced experts.

Where appropriate, I suggest a younger expert to the client instead of myself and I take on the position of a “review partner”. I offer a discount on our fees if the younger expert is selected – explaining the commercial rationale to the client. The client has always been well served by the choice of the younger expert.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN THE PROUDEST OF?

I have been lucky to have been involved with a number of growing practices, including two from inception. I’m most proud to have helped grow them and to have seen those that I have worked with over the years go on to become senior practitioners in their own right.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Expert Witnesses

Since 1997, Mr Wreford has specialised in forensic accounting work, including commercial litigation and arbitration, fraud and financial investigations.

His primary area of focus is high-value commercial disputes. Mr Wreford has worked with clients across a range of industries, including manufacturing, technology, telecommunications, energy, financial services, construction, professional services, insurance, pharmaceuticals, public sector/government and shipping.

Mr Wreford has been the expert in many high-value and high-profile matters. Mr Wreford has worked on, and has given evidence in, numerous arbitrations involving substantial claims of commercial loss.

Over the past few years, these have included a claim for around €1 billion in the nuclear power sector, a €200 million claim in the thermoplastic sector, a claim in excess of US$700 million in the telecommunications sector, and a claim in excess of US$500 million for interruption to a renewable energy business.

Mr Wreford's work typically involves international elements, often with assessments of profits, whether historical or hypothetical/counter-factual positions. These have included cross-border sales of finished goods, shipping contracts, the supply of raw materials between entities in two different countries. In addition, Mr Wreford has worked on post-acquisition disputes where issues of accounting for intra-group sales have arisen.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a chartered fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and a member of the Academy of Experts. He is a British national.

WWL says: Dominic Wreford is "an excellent expert witness who is easy to work with and always comes up with top-quality work".

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

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

Since 1997, Dominic has specialised in forensic accounting work, including commercial litigation and arbitration, fraud and financial investigations.

His primary area of focus is high-value commercial disputes. Mr Wreford has worked with clients across a range of industries, including manufacturing, technology, telecommunications, energy, financial services, construction, professional services, insurance, pharmaceuticals, public sector/government and shipping.

Mr Wreford has been the expert in many high-value and high-profile matters. Mr Wreford has worked on, and has given evidence in, numerous arbitrations involving substantial claims of commercial loss.

Over the past few years, these have included a claim for around €1 billion in the nuclear power sector, a €200 million claim in the thermoplastic sector, a claim in excess of US$700 million in the telecommunications sector, and a claim in excess of US$500 million for interruption to a renewable energy business.

Mr Wreford's work typically involves international elements, often with assessments of profits, whether historical or hypothetical/counter-factual positions. These have included cross-border sales of finished goods, shipping contracts, the supply of raw materials between entities in two different countries. In addition, Mr Wreford has worked on post-acquisition disputes where issues of accounting for intra-group sales have arisen.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a chartered fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and a member of the Academy of Experts. He is a British national.

WWL says: In London, Dominic Wreford is widely endorsed as “the star of the market” by peers, who say: “He is very technically strong, sensible and commercial, provides sound advice, and is easy to work with.”

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

Since 1997, Dominic has specialised in forensic accounting work, including commercial litigation and arbitration, fraud and financial investigations.

His primary area of focus is high-value commercial disputes. Mr Wreford has worked with clients across a range of industries, including manufacturing, technology, telecommunications, energy, financial services, construction, professional services, insurance, pharmaceuticals, public sector/government and shipping.

Mr Wreford has been the expert in many high-value and high-profile matters. Mr Wreford has worked on, and has given evidence in, numerous arbitrations involving substantial claims of commercial loss.

Over the past few years, these have included a claim for around €1 billion in the nuclear power sector, a €200 million claim in the thermoplastic sector, a claim in excess of US$700 million in the telecommunications sector, and a claim in excess of US$500 million for interruption to a renewable energy business.

Mr Wreford's work typically involves international elements, often with assessments of profits, whether historical or hypothetical/counter-factual positions. These have included cross-border sales of finished goods, shipping contracts, the supply of raw materials between entities in two different countries. In addition, Mr Wreford has worked on post-acquisition disputes where issues of accounting for intra-group sales have arisen.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a chartered fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and a member of the Academy of Experts. He is a British national.

WWL says: Dominic Wreford at Duff & Phelps is well versed in handling a range of complex commercial disputes, where he provides oral and written testimony relating to loss and claims valuations.

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

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