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Thought Leaders

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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Gervase MacGregor is a distinguished individual who respondents praise highly for his “ability to digest the critical issues” and his handling of complex investigations.

Questions & Answers

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 area of expertise is 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 do you enjoy most about your role as an expert witness?

Working with my highly talented team – some of whom have been with me for many years – and seeing former team members doing brilliantly in other firms. One great example is someone who joined my team from our mailroom and is now a highly respected forensic technologist. I am also very lucky to work with some of the world’s best lawyers on a regular basis.

How has the role of expert witnesses in arbitration proceedings evolved since you started your career?

The financial expert has become increasingly important in proceedings because of the importance of our models in assessing quantum and valuation. These are now very sophisticated and flexible, with lawyers and tribunals becoming more adept at understanding how they are put together, their strengths and shortcomings, and how they can properly be used in a case.

Clients and instructing counsel have become far more respectful of the need for experts to be (and to be seen to be) independent than I recall was the case 20 years ago. I recall one barrister offering to dictate my report to me. That would be unthinkable these days.

How has your previous career as a petroleum geologist enhanced your current work?

As with any industry, previous experience helps you understand the culture, the terminology and the reality of the work. But I think a far better experience was being an auditor. You end up with first-hand experience of particular sectors, the records, and how business decisions are made. I used to audit a number of wine bars and the clients would often make me do my work at a table in the bar. I learnt from this experience exactly how restaurants work, and many years later, when I go to a restaurant I still mentally add up the number of covers, try and work out what the mark-up is and how much money the place is making (no, I am not a great dinner date).

Over one year later, what impact has the Achmea decision had on the arbitration market?

It’s been a great icebreaker at conference cocktail parties.

What are the current challenges facing forensic accountants?

Keeping your best staff.

What impact is the current uncertainty in the regulatory landscape, brought about by Brexit and the GDPR, having on your work?

Brexit has not had any impact. But the GDPR is another matter altogether. It can impose significant burdens on my work.

On what types of matters are clients approaching you with frequently at present?

A lot of pre arbitration advice on quantum – often for funders. Advice on share purchase agreements and warranty claims. And outside the world of arbitration, I regularly get asked to advise boards on accounting and governance issues. Previously being a non-exec and an audit committee chair on a significant listed entity has given me insights into the pressure boards face, which is invaluable.

What is the best piece of career advice you have received?

You’re probably not going to be good enough to play football competitively.

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Gervase MacGregor is head of forensic services at BDO LLP. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Liverpool and a master’s degree from HEC in Paris. He is a chartered accountant and a certified fraud examiner. He joined BDO in 1982, qualified in 1986, was made a partner in 1991 and became head of the London-based litigation support and forensic accounting department in 1994. His first forensic investigation, in 1985, was into a contested takeover by a client of his firm, Caparo. His work into accounting irregularities gave rise to the Caparo case on auditors’ liability.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

I joined BDO in 1982. I had a career in audit, accounting, tax, investigations, valuation and corporate finance, becoming an audit partner in 1991. I started forensic accounting in 1985, when I investigated the transaction which gave rise to the Caparo case. I have had many roles at my firm including head of advisory, and now head of risk and reputation. I have worked as an investigator for the old FSA and the FRC, and been a government inspector.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN ARBITRATION?

Andrew Maclay and I took an ICSID case in Paris on about eight years ago where the existing experts had moved firms. From that one case we developed our practice. So much of damages work has required an understanding of valuation issues. I had set up the valuation division of BDO back in 2004 with IFRS coming in. We have a very large team and it was very important to have those specific skills.

HOW HAS THE MARKET CHANGED SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED PRACTISING?

Two things. First, the increasing sophistication of valuation models. This is an area that’s still developing but the models are becoming far more flexible and useful. Garbage in, garbage out still applies; a well-built model is often key to using really good inputs properly. Second thing was the change in the competition. We see less of the Big Four now and far more boutiques. Having said that, many people have simply gone from the former to the latter.

WHAT MAKES BDO STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

Against the Big Four, we always had far fewer conflicts. Unlike some boutiques, I have a substantial public accounting practice that I can call on at BDO with world leaders in discrete areas of technical accounting, finance raising and taxation. Boutiques rarely have that resource. We also have people with sector skills around the globe – again, outside the large networks that is not common.

HOW IS NEW TECHNOLOGY AFFECTING THE PRACTICE AREA OF ARBITRATION?

Increasingly so, but still mainly in the field of disclosure. But we do have a growing worry about cyberbreaches and I am sure that we are going to see a major hack soon – probably of a draft award.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN FACTORS THAT DICTATE WHETHER A PARTICULAR EXPERT OR EXPERT FIRM GETS HIRED ON A CASE? HOW DOES BDO ENSURE IT IS IN THE MIX FOR MAJOR CANDIDATES?

Often it is based on personal relations with law firm, or awareness of market reputation.

YOU HAVE ENJOYED A DISTINGUISHED CAREER SO FAR. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE THAT YOU HAVE NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED?

Interesting question – the pinnacle of my career was being appointed a UK government inspector. So it would have to be something with a public service angle.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO START OUT IN ARBITRATION?

If you enjoy hard work, intellectual challenge, teamwork and lots of travel, look no further.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Gervase MacGregor is a distinguished individual to whom respondents give high praise for his “ability to digest the critical issues” and his handling of complex investigations.

Questions & Answers

Gervase MacGregor is head of international advisory, risk & quality services. He is also the head of forensic services at BDO UK. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Liverpool and a master’s degree from HEC in Paris.He is a chartered accountant and a certified fraud examiner. He joined BDO in 1982; qualified in 1986; was made a partner in BDO in 1991; and became head of the London-based litigation support and forensic accounting department in 1994. His first forensic investigation, in 1985, was into a contested takeover by a client of his firm, Caparo Plc. His work into accounting irregularities gave rise to the Caparo case on auditors’ liability.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

I joined BDO in 1982. I had a career in audit, accounting, tax, investigations, valuation and corporate finance, becoming an audit partner in 1991. I started forensic accounting in 1985, when I investigated the transaction that gave rise to the Caparo case. I have had many roles at my firm, including head of advisory and now head of risk and reputation. I have worked as an investigator for the old Financial Services Authority and the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), and been a government inspector.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT WORKING AS A FORENSIC ACCOUNTANT THAT YOU ENJOY MOST?

The detail; uncovering things (occasionally in interview); working in teams with bright people; the highs and the lows. Plus applying my accountancy knowledge gained from nearly 40 years of working with BDO’s clients.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL ACCOUNTANT TESTIFYING AS AN EXPERT WITNESS?

I think you have to have a background in practising as an accountant for a start. Audit is a very good training, but accounts preparation is also really relevant. Having been exposed to commercial life is also pretty key because it gives a greater context to the transactions you’re considering. It’s often said that a chartered accounting qualification is the best training for business you can get – because you are exposed to corporate life from the shop floor to the boardroom. I know there are people with no practical accounting experience at all that testify on accounting matters – you cannot learn from a textbook alone.

THE FRC RECENTLY IMPLEMENTED CHANGES IN ITS UK ACCOUNTING STANDARDS. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FUTURE REGULATORY WORK?

Its not the changes in UK standards – which have been aligned for some time with the international financial reporting standards. The real changes are to the new FRC’s remit. As the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority, it is going to look at the board as a whole, and the report and accounts as a whole. Plus more corporate entities will be “within scope”. We know that there will be more investigations into audit but that’s just the start. And all of that means more regulatory work.

HOW DOES BDO DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM THE COMPETITION?

Our competition these days is often the boutiques. Unlike many boutiques, we have a substantial public accounting practice with world leaders in discrete areas of technical accounting, finance raising and taxation. Boutiques rarely have that resource. We also have people with sector skills around the globe – again outside the large networks that is not common.

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR PRACTICE DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

Data and data breach investigations are becoming very important – I think this will develop at pace.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING/MEMORABLE CASE YOU HAVE BEEN A PART OF?

Being the UK governments accounting inspector on MG Rover.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING OUT AS A FORENSIC ACCOUNTANT?

Do make sure you get exposure from your firm to corporate finance or audit.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Gervase MacGregor is celebrated by clients for his “unfailingly thorough attention to detail, excellent preparation and great ability to explain complex issues simply and clearly”.

Biography

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 71 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 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, 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.

Asset Recovery Experts 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Gervase MacGregor is “highly regarded” by peers for his exceptional asset recovery practice. He has particular expertise in the financial services, natural resources and power industries. 

Biography

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 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, 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 Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Gervase MacGregor is a seasoned asset recovery practitioner with extensive experience working across numerous jurisdictions and industries.

Biography

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 69 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, 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 EvidenceSolicitors 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 Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Gervase MacGregor is highly sought after by market sources who applaud his “ability to digest the critical issues, produce an impressive report and defend it in joint meetings or under cross-examination”.

Biography

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 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; 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 Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Gervase MacGregor is very highly regarded for his work as a forensic accountant, and is recognised for his profound ability on regulatory matters and takeover disputes.

Biography

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 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; 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 Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Gervase MacGregor is a distinguished individual who respondents praise highly for his “ability to digest the critical issues” and his handling of complex investigations.

Biography

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 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, 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.

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