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Thought Leaders

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John McGuiness

John McGuiness

McGrathNicolLevel 1220 Martin PlaceSydneyAustralia2000

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

John is a leading dispute advisory expert and has many years’ experience in advising clients and providing objective analysis of transactions in major commercial disputes. He draws on skills from accounting, finance, costing and general commercial advice to deliver analysis and opinions on issues that generally involve large data sets or complex issues. A significant part of John’s work involves the provision of valuation advice related to assets, equities and other matters in dispute settings.

WHAT FIRST ATTRACTED YOU TO WORKING IN DISPUTES?

I enjoy the interface of mathematics, accounting and finance in the commercial world. In the mid-1990s, I was invited into a role to advise a government authority in the Middle East on the assembly of claims for damages for corporates and government agencies, arising from an illegal invasion of the country.

The claims were assembled and submitted to the United Nations. This role gave me a chance to work with leading legal, financial and accounting advisers in delivering a once in a career solution for a country that had to rebuild.

YOU HAVE A BROAD PRACTICE. ON WHAT SORTS OF MATTERS ARE YOU MOST ACTIVE AT PRESENT?

There’s an increase in arbitrations as cross-border participants use this forum to resolve significant issues. There’s activity in roles for expert witnesses such as loss analysis, valuations, shareholder/venture issues, post-acquisition disputes and accounting analysis. I have been involved in a number of class actions or large-scale claims assessments across the financial services, consumer, contracting and energy sectors. I am also engaged as a joint expert or referee to resolve completion accounting, earn out or other matters when parties have different expectations after the deal is done.

HOW HAS THE ROLE OF THE EXPERT WITNESS EVOLVED SINCE YOU STARTED PRACTISING?

I was one of the founding members of the forensic practice in a Big Four accounting firm in the mid-1990s. At that time, the expert roles generally involved loss analysis, business valuation and accounting matters.

In time, as there was an explosion in volumes of information and types of technology in business, experts had to develop skills to get across lots of data quickly.

There’s a combination of skills from accounting, finance, financial modelling and data analysis that help experts get across the disparate sets of data to provide opinions on relevant matters.

There have been changes in the role of the expert, such as single court-appointed experts, witness conferencing, joint reports and other techniques to enable the court get to the essential differences between experts. The role of an expert proved valuable to assist parties understand and resolve issues in international arbitrations.

WHAT IMPACT DO YOU EXPECT THE ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MISCONDUCT IN THE BANKING, SUPERANNUATION AND FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY TO HAVE ON DISPUTES IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

A finding from the Commission was the abuse of trust and the inability of systems or management to readily deal with issues. There was significant comment as to the ethics and governance frameworks of institutions.

I expect the regulatory authorities will be more vigilant in putting the brakes on behaviour that does not meet expectations. This is likely to lead to more investigations, undertakings and remediation processes so the community has confidence that if organisations behave inappropriately, the regulators are there to act in the broader interest.

I expect the litigation activity will involve larger and/or complex issues relative to other forms of commercial litigation. The independence of the expert analysis will be critical, given commentary on how institutions sought to implement remediation processes.

CAN WE EXPECT A TOUGHER LINE FROM REGULATORS IN AUSTRALIA OVER THE COMING YEARS?

My sense is that the community and the government will advance an agenda to have the regulators put a closer eye on institutions. I would say the regulatory approach in Australia and Asia is less invasive than in Europe or the US. One regulator is on the record for a shift to a why-not-litigate-type approach. That approach is expected to engage directors and management to resolve matters before they become whole of business issues.

WHAT CHALLENGES DO THE NEXT GENERATION OF EXPERT WITNESSES FACE?

In the years following the global financial crisis, the propensity for corporates to resolve disputes increased as businesses focused on cost management. At the same time, there was a shift for parties to resolve issues in forums away from the public record. These changes present challenges for the next generation of experts to have the public record talk to their credentials. On the other hand, the courts are seeking open and impartial views on complex matters, which is more about the individual than the length of their experience. As business processes evolve, the emerging experts may be better equipped to advise on commercial issues.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL EXPERT WITNESS?

As an expert, I am asked to provide objective advice in serious issues for corporates, government or individuals. In the long term, an expert has a set of skills, experience and integrity that are critical to informing courts, mediations and arbitrations of sensible solutions. It’s about having a simple message for large or complex problems. It’s about an ability to stand to the side of one’s work and see it how others see it.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?

I practised for many years with a leading forensic practice in a Big Four environment, which had the privilege of working with leading organisations, governments and individuals. I am enjoying the transition to McGrathNicol, a leading independent restructuring, transactions and forensic business, which is well placed to provide impartial advice in the settings of commercial disputes and regulatory matters. It’s a privilege to work with talented people when leading corporates and government bodies are engaged in large or complex disputes.

Global Leader

Arbitration Expert Witnesses 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

John McGuiness is held in high esteem by clients and peers alike, who recognise “the high quality of his work, featuring sound mathematical analysis, as well as his very approachable manner”. He continues to be regarded as one of Australia’s pre-eminent names for arbitration testimony.

Biography

John is a leading dispute advisory expert and has many years’ experience in advising clients and providing objective analysis of transactions in major commercial disputes.

He draws on skills from accounting, finance, costing and general commercial advice to deliver analysis and opinions on issues that generally involve large data sets or complex issues. A significant part of John’s work involves the provision of valuation advice related to assets, equities and other matters in dispute settings.

He has delivered many valuation and expert reports across a wide range of industry settings. His experience covers government, financial services, energy and natural resources, industrial markets, property and construction, infrastructure and telecommunications.

John provides expert evidence in commercial matters where there are significant differences (or disagreements) of financial outcomes. This role requires the preparation of simple yet comprehensive reports and financial models to assist the court or arbitration.

His work is acknowledged for its objective nature and conceptual merit, for example: “[the court] accept[s] that in giving his evidence, Mr McGuiness was a true professional witness.” Another matter observed “in relation to matters of expert judgement and objectivity, [the court] preferred the evidence of Mr McGuiness. His approach was particularly careful and thorough. He gave careful and reasoned consideration to his task at all stages of his engagement, from his initial report through to his evidence at hearing.”

He holds degrees in science (mathematics) and commerce from the University of Queensland; and an MBA and a Master of Applied Finance from the Queensland University of Technology. He is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

John McGuiness is well known for his impressive dispute advisory practice that spans a range of matters including loss analysis and valuation.

Biography

John is a leading dispute advisory expert and has many years’ experience in advising clients and providing objective analysis of transactions in major commercial disputes.

He draws on skills from accounting, finance, costing and general commercial advice to deliver analysis and opinions on issues that generally involve large data sets or complex issues. A significant part of John’s work involves the provision of valuation advice related to assets, equities and other matters in dispute settings.

He has delivered many valuation and expert reports across a wide range of industry settings. His experience covers government, financial services, energy and natural resources, industrial markets, property and construction, infrastructure and telecommunications.

John provides expert evidence in commercial matters where there are significant differences (or disagreements) of financial outcomes. This role requires the preparation of simple yet comprehensive reports and financial models to assist the court or arbitration.

His work is acknowledged for its objective nature and conceptual merit, for example: “[the court] accept[s] that in giving his evidence, Mr McGuiness was a true professional witness.” Another matter observed “in relation to matters of expert judgement and objectivity, [the court] preferred the evidence of Mr McGuiness. His approach was particularly careful and thorough. He gave careful and reasoned consideration to his task at all stages of his engagement, from his initial report through to his evidence at hearing.”

He holds degrees in science (mathematics) and commerce from the University of Queensland; and an MBA and a Master of Applied Finance from the Queensland University of Technology. He is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

John McGuiness is “very well regarded” among market sources who single him out as “one of the go-to people for highly technical matters”.

Biography

John is a leading dispute advisory expert and has many years’ experience in advising clients and providing objective analysis of transactions in major commercial disputes.

He draws on skills from accounting, finance, costing and general commercial advice to deliver analysis and opinions on issues that generally involve large data sets or complex issues. A significant part of John’s work involves the provision of valuation advice related to assets, equities and other matters in dispute settings.

He has delivered many valuation and expert reports across a wide range of industry settings. His experience covers government, financial services, energy and natural resources, industrial markets, property and construction, infrastructure and telecommunications.

John provides expert evidence in commercial matters where there are significant differences (or disagreements) of financial outcomes. This role requires the preparation of simple yet comprehensive reports and financial models to assist the court or arbitration.

His work is acknowledged for its objective nature and conceptual merit, for example: “[the court] accept[s] that in giving his evidence, Mr McGuiness was a true professional witness.” Another matter observed “in relation to matters of expert judgement and objectivity, [the court] preferred the evidence of Mr McGuiness. His approach was particularly careful and thorough. He gave careful and reasoned consideration to his task at all stages of his engagement, from his initial report through to his evidence at hearing.”

He holds degrees in science (mathematics) and commerce from the University of Queensland; and an MBA and a Master of Applied Finance from the Queensland University of Technology. He is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

John McGuiness is well respected by sources who compliment the “high quality of his preparation and analysis”, adding that he is “a very measured and considered witness who is always attentive to the question at hand”. 

Biography

John is a leading dispute advisory expert and has many years’ experience in advising clients and providing objective analysis of transactions in major commercial disputes.

He draws on skills from accounting, finance, costing and general commercial advice to deliver analysis and opinions on issues that generally involve large data sets or complex issues. A significant part of John’s work involves the provision of valuation advice related to assets, equities and other matters in dispute settings.

He has delivered many valuation and expert reports across a wide range of industry settings. His experience covers government, financial services, energy and natural resources, industrial markets, property and construction, infrastructure and telecommunications.

John provides expert evidence in commercial matters where there are significant differences (or disagreements) of financial outcomes. This role requires the preparation of simple yet comprehensive reports and financial models to assist the court or arbitration.

His work is acknowledged for its objective nature and conceptual merit, for example: “[the court] accept[s] that in giving his evidence, Mr McGuiness was a true professional witness.” Another matter observed “in relation to matters of expert judgement and objectivity, [the court] preferred the evidence of Mr McGuiness. His approach was particularly careful and thorough. He gave careful and reasoned consideration to his task at all stages of his engagement, from his initial report through to his evidence at hearing.”

He holds degrees in science (mathematics) and commerce from the University of Queensland; and an MBA and a Master of Applied Finance from the Queensland University of Technology. He is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

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