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Thought Leaders Global Elite - Forensic Accountants 2021

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Luke Steadman has an “excellent reputation” among peers and is regularly involved in providing evidence in international arbitrations and domestic high court proceedings. 

Questions & Answers

Luke Steadman is a partner in Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice, where he specialises in providing accounting expert evidence for international arbitration and domestic litigation. He has over 25 years’ experience as a forensic accounting expert witness across Europe, Asia and the United States. He has acted as both party-appointed and tribunal-appointed expert on numerous matters and been cross-examined on more than 30 occasions in hearings under ICC, LCIA, Hong Kong, Dubai and other Arbitration Rules. 

Describe your career to date.

I trained as a chartered accountant with a UK audit firm before switching, in 1994, to what was then the nascent discipline now known as forensic accounting (back then we called it “litigation support”). I have practised it exclusively since. My early career was mainly focused on accounting investigations, which took me all over the world, and in explaining complex transactions and money flows to courts and juries in the UK and internationally. My focus now tends to be on expert witness matters, principally considerations of quantum of damages and valuation, as well as accounting issues and concepts. I provide expert evidence in both arbitration and litigation proceedings.

What do clients look for when selecting an expert witness?

Expertise and experience. Expertise, because someone who is not an expert in their field will generally be a bad choice and will come unstuck in cross-examination; experience because of the unique way in which expertise is challenged in adversarial arbitration or litigation proceedings. The work of an expert is, in practice, part “journey” and part “translation” as regardless of what we find, however complex or esoteric, it has to be communicated succinctly and clearly in legal proceedings for it to be of use.

How has covid-19 impacted arbitration hearings?

To start with, most hearings were simply delayed and there was some nervousness about virtual hearings, including by myself. However, it soon became clear to parties and tribunals that virtual hearings were technologically possible, practical and could efficiently replicate in-person hearings without compromising the nature of the process. I have found them to be just as effective for examining witnesses and experts. What will be interesting to see is whether virtual hearings will replace in-person hearings completely in the future, given the considerable savings in costs.

What differences do you notice when providing evidence in litigation compared to arbitration proceedings?

From an expert’s perspective, there is little difference, perhaps only in the procedures used by each. As forensic accountants, we are fortunate to have a common rulebook which means that we can act on disputes in practically any jurisdiction. The effectiveness of any hearing depends on the participation and preparation of counsel and those charged with arriving at a judgment or award, while concurrent evidence (expert “hot-tubbing”) is no longer only to be found in arbitration. As experts, we hold ourselves to the same standards in both arbitration and litigation. I enjoy giving evidence in any forum, while being challenged on my views by some of the best advocates and arbitrators.

What trends are you seeing emerging in the types of disputes currently going to arbitration?

Geographical – with arbitration the choice of many parties, so many disputes, whether resolved virtually or in hearings in any of the arbitration cities, now involve companies from far-flung jurisdictions which always makes things interesting for an expert.

How would you like to develop your practice in the next five years?

It should be about training the next generation of experts. We have a strong and ambitious team at A&M who I work with on a day-to-day basis. I have enjoyed being part of the faculty of an arbitration provider assisting both new counsel and new experts with cross-examination training.  

What advice would you offer to new forensic accountants? 

I always meet with new forensic accountant trainees at our firm in the first week or so of their careers and offer them three pieces of advice that have served me well over the past 20-plus years in disputes. First, start with the cross-examination and work backwards into the report. Focusing on the unique way in which our work is scrutinised and challenged allows us to present that information in a clear, objective and unemotive way. Second, realise that what makes a good report and strong evidence is the ability to communicate complex issues in a clear, precise and uncompromised manner. There is a different skill to be mastered between understanding and communicating, and only the latter is useful to clients and tribunals. Third, an application of Occam’s razor is often the most helpful tool available to a forensic accountant. Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions is often to be preferred.

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"Luke is excellent for when there is an investigation angle involved in the case"
"Mr Steadman is unshakeable under cross-examination"
"He impresses with his very measured approach"

Biography

Luke Steadman is a partner in Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice, specialising in expert accounting evidence for international arbitration. He has over 20 years of professional accounting experience as a forensic accountant focusing on dispute resolution, expert testimony, investigations and disputes across Europe, Asia and the United States.

His experience of international arbitration covers ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL and ICDR rules as well as ad hoc and specialist centres such as London Maritime, Dubai and Singapore. He has acted as both party-appointed and tribunal-appointed expert on over 30 matters over the past five years and has provided both solo and concurrent oral evidence in hearings in London, Warsaw and Dubai. Written and oral evidence has included considerations of quantum, valuation, and the accounting treatment of complex transactions under international, US and UK Accounting Standards and Principles.

As an expert in accounting and valuation, Mr Steadman also provides expert evidence in domestic courts and has appeared in the High Court on many occasions. He continues to receive instruction in High Court matters and has also appeared as an expert on accounting concepts and principles in the First-tier Tax Tribunal.

With over 20 years of experience, Mr Steadman is also known for leading complex many-handed accounting investigations and asset recovery matters. He has led accounting investigations on both sides of the Atlantic, and in the United States he has considerable experience in dealing with US regulators and prosecutors following investigations of fraud and accounting irregularities at major US companies. In Asia, Mr Steadman acted as an expert in a high-profile failed investment scheme, while in the United Kingdom he has carried out a number of wide-ranging investigations of accounting irregularities on behalf of UK companies, insurers and investors.

In the public sector, Mr Steadman saw regular appointments by the secretary of state for trade and industry as an inspector in matters of insider dealing and in the conduct of statutory company investigations under UK legislation, as well as providing assistance on accounting, fraud and other issues to major regulators.

Prior to joining Alvarez & Marsal, Mr Steadman was the head of the fraud and forensic accounting investigations team at a global consulting firm.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Luke Steadman is an "experienced expert" who excels in providing expert evidence and valuation expertise in proceedings across multiple jurisdictions. 

Biography

Luke Steadman is a partner in Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice, specialising in expert accounting evidence for international arbitration. He has over 20 years of professional accounting experience as a forensic accountant focusing on dispute resolution, expert testimony, investigations and disputes across Europe, Asia and the United States.

His experience of international arbitration covers ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL and ICDR rules as well as ad hoc and specialist centres such as London Maritime, Dubai and Singapore. He has acted as both party-appointed and tribunal-appointed expert on over 30 matters over the past five years and has provided both solo and concurrent oral evidence in hearings in London, Warsaw and Dubai. Written and oral evidence has included considerations of quantum, valuation, and the accounting treatment of complex transactions under international, US and UK Accounting Standards and Principles.

As an expert in accounting and valuation, Mr Steadman also provides expert evidence in domestic courts and has appeared in the High Court on many occasions. He continues to receive instruction in High Court matters and has also appeared as an expert on accounting concepts and principles in the First-tier Tax Tribunal.

With over 20 years of experience, Mr Steadman is also known for leading complex many-handed accounting investigations and asset recovery matters. He has led accounting investigations on both sides of the Atlantic, and in the United States he has considerable experience in dealing with US regulators and prosecutors following investigations of fraud and accounting irregularities at major US companies. In Asia, Mr Steadman acted as an expert in a high-profile failed investment scheme, while in the United Kingdom he has carried out a number of wide-ranging investigations of accounting irregularities on behalf of UK companies, insurers and investors.

In the public sector, Mr Steadman saw regular appointments by the secretary of state for trade and industry as an inspector in matters of insider dealing and in the conduct of statutory company investigations under UK legislation, as well as providing assistance on accounting, fraud and other issues to major regulators.

Prior to joining Alvarez & Marsal, Mr Steadman was the head of the fraud and forensic accounting investigations team at a global consulting firm.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Luke Steadman has an “excellent reputation” among peers and is regularly involved in providing evidence in international arbitrations and domestic high court proceedings. 

Biography

Luke Steadman is a partner in Alvarez & Marsal’s disputes and investigations practice, specialising in expert accounting evidence for international arbitration. He has over 20 years of professional accounting experience as a forensic accountant focusing on dispute resolution, expert testimony, investigations and disputes across Europe, Asia and the United States.

His experience of international arbitration covers ICC, LCIA, UNCITRAL and ICDR rules as well as ad hoc and specialist centres such as London Maritime, Dubai and Singapore. He has acted as both party-appointed and tribunal-appointed expert on over 30 matters over the past five years and has provided both solo and concurrent oral evidence in hearings in London, Warsaw and Dubai. Written and oral evidence has included considerations of quantum, valuation, and the accounting treatment of complex transactions under international, US and UK Accounting Standards and Principles.

As an expert in accounting and valuation, Mr Steadman also provides expert evidence in domestic courts and has appeared in the High Court on many occasions. He continues to receive instruction in High Court matters and has also appeared as an expert on accounting concepts and principles in the First-tier Tax Tribunal.

With over 20 years of experience, Mr Steadman is also known for leading complex many-handed accounting investigations and asset recovery matters. He has led accounting investigations on both sides of the Atlantic, and in the United States he has considerable experience in dealing with US regulators and prosecutors following investigations of fraud and accounting irregularities at major US companies. In Asia, Mr Steadman acted as an expert in a high-profile failed investment scheme, while in the United Kingdom he has carried out a number of wide-ranging investigations of accounting irregularities on behalf of UK companies, insurers and investors.

In the public sector, Mr Steadman saw regular appointments by the secretary of state for trade and industry as an inspector in matters of insider dealing and in the conduct of statutory company investigations under UK legislation, as well as providing assistance on accounting, fraud and other issues to major regulators.

Prior to joining Alvarez & Marsal, Mr Steadman was the head of the fraud and forensic accounting investigations team at a global consulting firm.

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