For over 15 years Matthias has brought economic and financial expertise to commercial disputes. Before relocating to Paris, Matthias spent several years in London working on high-profile international disputes. He has acted as expert witness in a variety of matters, and before several arbitration and litigation forums; he has also testified in French and English in many commercial and investment arbitrations.
What do you enjoy most about working as an expert witness in litigation proceedings?
Never getting bored. Each case presents unique combination of issues, industries and cultures. There is always a huge amount of knowledge to be gained in each and every case.
Where, in your opinion, does the future of the practice area lie?
The sophistication of damages quantification has increased enormously in the past decade. Today the familiarity of some counsel and arbitrators with damages-related issues is stunning.
At the same time, interestingly, the answers brought by different tribunals to similar damages issues in analogous contexts can be very different. Going forward, I could see greater convergence, especially as damages are increasingly a topic of research and debate among arbitration practitioners.
What qualities make for an effective arbitration expert witness?
Aside from being skilful at conveying complex messages to a non-expert audience, a key attribute of a good expert witnesses is, in my view, his or her ability to quickly make sense of the (sometimes enormous amount of) economic data typically found in international arbitration cases. Understanding the evidence is key to building a robust analysis from the outset.
This is easier said than done: getting a good grasp of the facts is time-consuming and requires articulating technical knowledge (such as interpreting accounting and financial documents), knowledge of the subject industry, and an understanding of the parties’ legal cases.
FTI is known for its breadth of industry expertise, do you often collaborate with industry experts?
FTI has a unique ability to bring together industry experts and damages experts. This has proved very efficient on many cases, for instance, in complex energy disputes where the nature of issues and the amounts at stake tend to justify the cost of appointing more than one expert.
That said, in my experience, contemporaneous economic information and analyses tend to be more persuasive than arguments from authority. In general, industry experts tend to be most helpful where the expertise required is very specific (for instance, in construction) or where relevant evidence is scarce.
Third-party funding is a growing trend. What difficulties are posed by performing quantum due diligence analyses on behalf of third-party funders?
I have seen very different approaches taken by different third-party funders. Some doing extensive due diligence, including on quantum. Others being less risk averse.
At present, my sense is that there is more money to fund arbitration cases than meritorious cases require. This is good for claimants, but challenging for funders’ returns.
I am looking forward to seeing some funds diversify to bring meritorious cases before French courts – although, unfortunately, funding is probably not the only challenge faced by claimants in the French legal system.
What are the greatest challenges currently facing financial and economic experts?
To an extent, some of the greatest challenges are behind us. Kudos to the pioneers, who first educated tribunals about the “compounding” of interest, the “discounting” of future losses, or the “cash flows” that investors typically used to assess the value of an investment.
Many key concepts are now well understood and, perhaps partly as a result, expert evidence is seen as more commoditised, resulting in more competition, which can be challenging.
At the same time, damages are less often overlooked, and the increased sophistication of counsel and tribunals means that parties really need to get it right, allowing reliable experts to thrive.
As a managing director of economic and financial consulting at FTI, what are your priorities for the firm going forward?
At present we are increasingly approached to act as experts in litigation proceedings before French courts. I could see our team doing more work in that space in the future.
What advice would you give to someone starting out a career in your field?
Get a job at FTI, and one or more mentors. I have been very fortunate to work with many exceptional expert witnesses. With them, I have attended dozens of hearings before getting my first appointments. This helped me building my expertise and developing long-lasting relationships with practitioners in the field. I am grateful to them and looking forward to giving back by pushing the next generation of experts.
Matthias Cazier-Darmois is hailed as a “rising star” and a “very good expert, particularly in gas pricing cases”. Commentators add that he is “very robust under cross-examination”.
Matthias Cazier-Darmois is a managing director in FTI Consulting's economic and financial consulting practice with extensive experience in providing expert evidence and valuation advice in complex commercial disputes and arbitrations.
Matthias routinely estimates damages as may arise from breaches of contracts or international treaties, breaches of warranties and representations, breaches fiduciary duties, antitrust regulations infringements and other tortious liabilities.
Matthias gave evidence in French and English in ICSID and ICC arbitrations and regularly acts as an expert witness at advocacy workshops for arbitration practitioners. Matthias has authored or co-authored several articles on damages and valuation related topics and gives lectures on damages-related issues at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin and Paris Sud.
In addition to his work on contentious matters, Matthias is also regularly involved in non-contentious engagements, including acquisition due diligence, valuations in the context of fairness opinions or transactions, and corporate fraud investigations.
Matthias holds a master's and a postgraduate degree in finance from the Dauphine University (Paris).
Before joining FTI Consulting in 2009, Matthias worked as a consultant in the European finance and accounting services practice of LECG in London and, before that, in the corporate finance division of a Big Four accounting firm in Paris and London.
Matthias is currently based in Paris and works in both French and English.