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Thought Leader

Peers and clients say

"I would highly recommend him; he is a formidable opponent"
"An experienced and knowledgeable practitioner, especially in gas pricing and oil uptake disputes"
"A very competent and pragmatic expert who is a pleasure to work with"

Questions & Answers

David Saunders is a partner with HKA within their forensic accounting and commercial damages (FACD) practice. In his 30-year career, he has worked extensively quantifying damages and performing valuations in a multitude of different industries and jurisdictions. He has also performed fraud and financial investigations. Mr Saunders has been involved in over 100 cases and has testified orally in 20 matters, including in ICC, DIFC, SCC, SCAI, ICSID and LCIA arbitrations.

What do you most enjoy about your role as a testifying expert?

The intellectual challenge with the cross-examiner. Also, the opportunity to both learn from others you are working with, client, counsel, colleagues (even experts acting for the other side in a dispute) and being able to pass that knowledge on to the next generations of experts. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a global practice?

Having a global practice can be really useful when the clients can be from anywhere in the world. Having a team member who is closer to the client can assist with data gathering and interviewing witnesses as opposed to flying out a team from London. Our global practice has professionals who come from different cultures and speak different languages, including Arabic, French, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish. Disadvantages can include having people in multiple time zones, resulting in some of the team working unsocial hours and having to do more via video rather than face to face, although we are all much more adept at that after the various lockdowns of 2020/21.

How is covid-19 affecting the damage calculations experts can conduct at this time, and how are you adapting to these changes?

The main issue affecting my practice as a result of covid-19 is the significant uncertainty as to how businesses would fare financially during the crisis and the likely time it will take for them to recover.  

How are restrictions arising from covid-19 affecting the investigation process surrounding account fraud?

The biggest difficulties are caused by not being able to travel or visit client sites. The majority of investigations are carried out on client premises where there can be easy access to both the financial documentation as well as the client staff responsible for preparing the accounts. It is nearly always the case that you will be able to get more information from an interview when you are physically with the interviewee than when you are talking via video link or over the phone. You also miss that opportunity of being present in a client’s offices where you can pick up useful snippets of information during informal chats with staff.

What challenges and opportunities accompany virtual hearings? Do you anticipate virtual and/or hybrid arbitration proceedings to become a permanent fixture in the market?

The biggest challenge I have found is in trying to understand a tribunal’s body language. When answering either the cross-examiner’s or the tribunal’s questions, you can normally maintain eye contact with each of the arbitrators and see if they are following what you are explaining – in a virtual hearing it is much more difficult when each of the arbitrators is just a small image on a fairly small screen.  There are also difficulties assisting the counsel team during the cross-examination of both other experts and relevant factual experts – the ability to pass a small post-it note over to the legal team with a comment, query or suggested follow-up question is much more difficult in the virtual environment.  

The reduction in travel to hearings has a number of advantages, including making it easier to testify in different hearings in the same week. Last year, one hearing ended up being extended with two extra days being added four weeks after the main hearing, which resulted in my testimony in that hearing being the day after my testimony in another case. Although not ideal, not having to travel from Switzerland to the UK made the task easier.

How is increased scrutiny towards social and environmental welfare affecting investment-treaty arbitrations?

As I mentioned in the previous answer, the reduction in worldwide travel to meet with clients/attend hearings can only be good for the environment. In regard to the subject matter of arbitrations with the growing awareness of both environmental and social issues in developing countries, it is going to be more important that the costs of complying with the terms of licences in those respects are taken into account in damage evaluations.

Looking back over your career, what is the most memorable arbitration you have been a part of?

That is hard to say, I have had some very interesting commercial arbitrations which have taken me around the world, meeting all wonder of interesting people. Also, memories of meetings with government clients where not only the relevant minister was present but also around 30 of their staff.  

How would you like your practice to develop during 2021-2022?

While we have a fledgling practice in valuations and commercial damages at HKA, we expect that to grow over the next couple of years. We have gone from no practice at all in London at the start of 2020 to 12 people now – we all look forward to having the chance of meeting in person! We are adding people in the Middle East, Asia and the USA all with experience in international arbitrations. It will also be good to see a continuing amalgamation of the traditional HKA skillsets of delay/quantum and engineering combined with the forensic accounting skills to provide even more value to our clients.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"I would highly recommend him; he is a formidable opponent"
"An experienced and knowledgeable practitioner, especially in gas pricing and oil uptake disputes"
"A very competent and pragmatic expert who is a pleasure to work with"

Biography

David is a chartered accountant with over 30 years of experience in the assessment of damages and forensic accounting. He has been appointed to act as an expert more than 100 times and has provided oral testimony, both in court and to arbitral tribunals, on 20 occasions.

David has given oral testimony (including being involved in witness conferencing) before the courts and tribunals across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. He has been appointed under AAA, ICC, LCIA, SCC and UNICITRAL rules and as a damages expert in bilateral investment treaty cases.

David specialises in valuations and the quantification of damages. The sectors his cases have covered include oil and gas, commodity trading, construction, property, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, manufacturing, hotels, retail, entertainment and financial services.

David also has significant forensic accounting, fraud and financial investigation experience, and has worked on cases involving the restatement of accounts. He has undertaken fraud and regulatory investigations in the UK, Europe and Asia, and has provided expert evidence on funds tracing issues. He has also worked on due diligence assignments and pre-lending reviews.

David is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, an associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and an accredited mediator. He been published on subjects ranging from cost control and procurement fraud to dispute resolution strategies and effective use of valuations.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

David Saunders is a "really excellent expert" with an internationally renowned flair for valuations and quantification of damages.

Biography

David is a chartered accountant with over 30 years of experience in forensic accounting. He has been appointed to act as an expert more than 100 times and has provided oral testimony, both in court and to arbitral tribunals, on 18 occasions.

David has given oral testimony (including being involved in witness conferencing) before the courts and tribunals across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. He has been appointed under AAA, ICC, LCIA, SCC and UNICITRAL rules and as a damages expert in bilateral investment treaty cases.

David specialises in valuations and quantification of damages. The sectors his cases have covered include oil and gas, commodity trading, construction, property, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, manufacturing, hotels, retail, entertainment and financial services.

David also has significant forensic accounting, fraud and financial investigation experience, and has worked on cases involving the restatement of accounts. He has undertaken fraud and regulatory investigations in the UK, Europe and Asia, and has provided expert evidence on funds tracing issues. He has also worked on due diligence assignments and pre-lending reviews.

David is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, an associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and an accredited mediator. He been published in a variety of magazines on subjects ranging from cost control and procurement fraud to dispute resolution strategies and effective use of valuations.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

With over 30 years' experience, David Saunders comes highly recommended by peers for his extensive expertise as a forensic accountant.

Biography

David is a chartered accountant with over 30 years of experience in forensic accounting. He has been appointed to act as an expert more than 100 times and has provided oral testimony, both in court and to arbitral tribunals, on 18 occasions.

David has given oral testimony (including being involved in witness conferencing) before the courts and tribunals across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. He has been appointed under AAA, ICC, LCIA, SCC and UNICITRAL rules and as a damages expert in bilateral investment treaty cases.

David specialises in valuations and quantification of damages. The sectors his cases have covered include oil and gas, commodity trading, construction, property, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, manufacturing, hotels, retail, entertainment and financial services.

David also has significant forensic accounting, fraud and financial investigation experience, and has worked on cases involving the restatement of accounts. He has undertaken fraud and regulatory investigations in the UK, Europe and Asia, and has provided expert evidence on funds tracing issues. He has also worked on due diligence assignments and pre-lending reviews.

David is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, an associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and an accredited mediator. He been published in a variety of magazines on subjects ranging from cost control and procurement fraud to dispute resolution strategies and effective use of valuations.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say:

"David is one of the most experienced forensic accountants in the London market"
"He is certainly a valuable asset to the team"

Biography

David is a chartered accountant with over 30 years of experience in forensic accounting. He has been appointed to act as an expert more than 100 times and has provided oral testimony, both in court and to arbitral tribunals, on 20 occasions.

David has given oral testimony (including being involved in witness conferencing) in both litigation and arbitration, and has appeared before the courts and tribunals across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. He has been appointed under AAA, ICC, LCIA, SCC and UNICITRAL rules and as a damages expert in bilateral investment treaty cases.

David specialises in valuations and quantification of damages. The sectors his cases have covered include oil and gas, commodity trading, construction, property, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, manufacturing, hotels, retail, entertainment and financial services.

David also has significant forensic accounting, fraud and financial investigation experience, as well as working on cases involving the restatement of accounts. He has undertaken fraud and regulatory investigations in the UK, Europe and Asia, and has provided expert evidence on funds tracing issues. He has also worked on due diligence assignments and pre-lending reviews.

David is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, an associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and an accredited mediator. He has been published in a variety of magazines on subjects ranging from cost control and procurement fraud to dispute resolution strategies and effective use of valuation.

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