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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

John McGuiness

John McGuiness

McGrathNicolLevel 1220 Martin PlaceSydneyAustralia2000

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Arbitration Expert Witnesses 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

John McGuiness is held in high esteem by clients and peers, who praise “the high quality of his work" as well as his "sound mathematical analysis and a very approachable manner”.

Questions & Answers

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

Describe your career to date.

I have a background in mathematics, chartered accounting and finance. My forensic journey began with an invitation to advise the Kuwaiti government on how corporate and government bodies should assemble claims following the Iraqi invasion in 1990. Since then I have been privileged to advise on the commercial and contested aspects of many large or complex transactions. I was with KPMG for 30 years and worked on some incredible engagements across a number of sectors. I am now with McGrathNicol which is well placed for the provision of independent expert services.

What do clients look for in an effective disputes advisory expert?

My sense is clients look for technical expertise, industry experience, longevity and an ability to withstand intense examination. When parties are investing in a contest, it is important to have confidence in the commercial acumen of an expert.

What impact does your work in matters outside arbitration have on the value you bring to clients?

A collection of experience in areas such as costing, pricing, accounting, commercial analysis and valuation can be applied across a range of problems. An engagement is like an MBA project: a problem requires definition, information, analysis and reasonable conclusions. An expert is tasked with providing relevant analysis in an objective manner and taking the reader to key findings. In part, it’s an education process for the reader.

In your recent practice, which industries have experienced an uptake in arbitration proceedings, and why?

A large part of my experience in arbitration is in the natural resources and infrastructure sectors. With significant investment in capital expenditure and sharing of assets, a common issue is the sharing of costs or the setting of prices to access infrastructure. The financial outcomes are not necessarily front of mind when the parties conclude agreements.

I have seen a number of issues from the acquisition of assets in other jurisdictions. These transactions often lead a purchaser to challenge the representations made by vendors. It can lead to claims for loss in value of assets, or an analysis of the completion accounting or earn-out provisions.

I find arbitration used in other sectors such as construction, transport, logistics, pharmaceuticals and government contractors. It depends on the issue; if there’s a difference of expectations and the stakes are high, then parties are likely to use arbitration provisions in agreements to advance their case.

What procedural issues do you see arising from covid-19 where the majority of participants continue to live under lockdown? 

There is an emergence of virtual courts or arbitrations. Lawyers have been quick to implement solutions to have personnel engaged in matters and deliver to timetables. It may be that there is an improvement in productivity with isolation and use of technology to collaborate within and across teams. 

As an expert, I have participated in a number of hearings via video conference. Lawyers and barristers are ready to adapt their style to challenge witnesses and experts in this setting. The process seems to work nicely and enable the hearing to get to the issues.

I have also worked with other experts in different time zones on joint reports. I think experts adapt and do their best to deliver a mutual deliverable within timetables.

I have found courts and arbitrations moving to electronic rather than hard copies of documents. It is not a big step to work through matters on a virtual basis.

How do you think that regulatory and state responses to covid-19 will play out in the arbitration market?

There are some lessons from the global financial crisis on the receipt and application of government-stimulated expenditure that ought to be applied to the covid-19 environment. I was involved in several matters where manufacturing businesses were adversely affected because of a change or cessation in stimulus policy. 

I expect there will be examples where intervention has unintended consequences. Checks and balances around the injection of capital may lead to a dislocation of resources and arguments about how parties conceived and delivered transactions and how they applied government funds. 

A number of arbitration matters are in the natural resources and infrastructure sector. These sectors may be less exposed than others that are directly dependent on consumer expenditure, such as retail and services. I expect the impact of covid-19 and winding-back of government support will bring out losses for small and medium-sized businesses. 

The government has relaxed expectations on directors around difficulties in the provision of forecasts. I expect my colleagues in the restructuring side of the business will be very active, and this will lead to a surge in litigation.

How has the legal community been affected by the pandemic? In your opinion, will these changes be long-term?

In the short term, there is disruption for professional service firms. They will adapt to a change in the agenda of clients  faced with existential decisions. In time, the agenda will change to recovery and growth, which may mean a cleansing of positions and balance sheets. 

A reduction in asset values is likely to lead to consolidation or merger activity. This could lead to issues with acquisitions without proper due diligence, and post-acquisition disputes. One would expect an increase in class action activity with concerns on the disclosure of information to the market. The pressures on global supply chains are likely to cause an increase in cross-border commercial tension.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

As an expert, act with integrity and do so from a solid conceptual platform.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

John McGuiness is held in high esteem by clients and peers, who praise “the high quality of his work" as well as his "sound mathematical analysis and a very approachable manner”.

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 an “extremely credible” expert who demonstrates “great knowledge of his field” and a broad skillset in cross-examinations. 

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 "experienced in high-profile, high-value tax disputes" and is widely regarded as a "very intelligent and insightful practitioner".

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 “very technically strong” in his analyses of transactions in complex disputes.

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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