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Thought Leaders

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WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

The “tremendously talented and quick” Richard Boulton QC is “an obvious pick as an expert witness” in arbitrations, according to interviewees, and ranks as one of the most prominent minds in the international market.

Questions & Answers

Richard Boulton QC is an FCA, chair of Berkeley Research Group (UK) Ltd and a barrister at One Essex Court. He advises clients on economic, accounting and valuation issues, with particular expertise in the assessment and explanation of complex damages. Before retraining as a barrister, he was the worldwide number two at Arthur Andersen. He has been engaged in over 300 litigations, including many of the UK’s largest commercial disputes. He has given oral evidence on approximately 60 occasions in the English High Court, the Copyright Tribunal, and the European Commission (Competition Directorate), and before over 30 international arbitration tribunals. He has also co-written a best-selling business book on strategy.

What do you enjoy most about acting as an expert witness?

There are many aspects to the role that I enjoy. I like the intellectual challenge posed by complex damages claims, in terms of understanding the issues, identifying the correct approach, performing the calculations and then explaining them in ways that are easy to understand. When it works well, the process transforms a difficult problem into an answer that appears obvious. I enjoy the teamwork, both with my team at BRG and with the client and instructing solicitors. I often enjoy the particular challenges of cross-examination. I do not enjoy the need to relearn details from reports that I may have authored years earlier; the last-minute surprises and late nights chasing down entirely new points that are part of any hearing; and counsel who make personal attacks when they know full well (or should know) that what I am saying is impartial and correct.

What do clients look for when selecting an expert witness to act for them?

There are no surprises here. Clients want someone whose views accord with their case; and someone who is articulate and robust under pressure, so that they will be able to explain complicated points to a tribunal. Of course, clients also require technical expertise and sometimes specific industry experience. This normally means that clients want experts with a track record of performing well under cross-examination, since the ability to do so cannot always be predicted from less confrontational meetings. One of the key challenges for firms like BRG is to find testifying opportunities for less experienced experts. 

Why is it important for experts to remain independent?

A good expert is objective and owes his or her duty to the tribunal. This is not only at the hearing: a good expert gives independent advice to his or her clients from the outset. The tribunal expects an expert witness to be independent and impartial, and is increasingly willing to discount the evidence of one who is or is seen to be partisan. This of course means it is in the long-term self-interest of experts to remain independent and withstand short-term client pressures: one critical award can ruin a reputation.

How can tribunals effectively develop expertise to distinguish between independent and partisan experts?

This is a major problem, particularly in certain jurisdictions. I see many experienced experts who are willing to take almost any position that is in their client’s interest. Over time, having seen experts give evidence in maybe 100 cases, I have learned which experts are reliable. My hope is that tribunals, many of whom are populated by lawyers with great experience, have built up a similar sense of who they can trust; but the risk with that of course is that the tribunal is approaching each case with knowledge derived from other cases, rather than just what is in front of it on that occasion. It is worth understanding an expert’s credentials, and such matters as whether they always act for claimants or defendants, or the same clients. A great deal can also be learned from demeanour on the stand: partisan experts are very slow to acknowledge criticisms or weaknesses in their report, even where they are obvious to everyone else in the hearing room. In my experience, hot-tubbing can also help to identify which experts are really seeking to help the tribunal.

What are the challenges you have encountered when cross-examining experts spanning a range of disciplines?

As a barrister, the obvious challenge is that one is cross-examining someone who knows more than you about the subject matter of their reports. I therefore seek to understand how the expert’s opinion might vary with different facts or assumptions. In my particular case, I am lucky enough to cross-examine financial experts who do not know more than me. The challenge then is not to descend into an interesting technical debate that is in fact of no interest to the tribunal.

In your opinion, why are high-value quantum disputes increasingly ending up in international arbitration as opposed to the courts?

This is now a well-established trend. Overall, the arbitration process is deemed to involve a degree of neutrality and fairness that cannot be assured in all foreign courts.

The degree of control that the parties are afforded in selecting the arbitrator(s) in a case is also attractive. This is coupled with the fact that arbitrators often have specific professional experience that provides them with a greater level of relevant expertise than a judge.

The confidentiality involved in arbitration is attractive for most parties. It also provides certainty, with reduced prospect of appeals.

This cannot all be taken for granted. Good arbitrators are in high demand and their diaries are full. Some international arbitrations are taking longer than court proceedings.

How do you see your practice developing over the next few years?

I helped develop one generation of leading experts at Arthur Andersen in the 1990s and would like to achieve the same at BRG over the next decade.

What advice would you give to someone looking to further their advocacy proficiency?

Treat every hearing as an opportunity to learn from all of the advocates on both sides: what works well and what doesn’t work. Focus in each case on what the tribunal needs and tailor your style accordingly.

BRG supports a range of programmes of advocacy training for lawyers and barristers – incorporating live mock arbitration hearings with experts and barristers, which can be invaluable for aspiring and improving advocates.

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

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Richard Boulton QC is “in a class of his own”, compliment peers who consider him “a big player who is active on the highest-value matters”.

Biography

Richard Boulton is the chairman of Berkeley Research Group (UK) Ltd. He is a chartered accountant who advises clients on economic, accounting and valuation issues, specialising in the calculation and communication of complex damages. He has been engaged in over 300 litigations, including many of the world’s largest commercial disputes. He has given oral evidence on approximately 60 occasions in the English High Court, Copyright Tribunal, and European Commission (Competition Directorate) and before over 30 international arbitration tribunals. He is also a commercial barrister at One Essex Court.

Mr Boulton was previously the global head of finance and accounting services of a major expert services and consulting firm, which included the forensic accounting, damages and intellectual property, financial services and health care practice areas.

Mr Boulton spent 20 years with Arthur Andersen, including 11 years as a partner. He spent three years (1997-2000) as the number-two executive, responsible for over 70,000 people worldwide. His broader experience included several global leadership positions; 15 years of client work as a consultant on financial and economic issues, particularly in the media and energy sectors; and substantial experience as an expert in major commercial litigation.

Mr Boulton has expertise in multiple jurisdictions. For four years, he spent half his time in the United States (principally Chicago and New York). He has led major client assignments in the United States (Seattle, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, New York, Minneapolis, Midland), Eastern Europe, the Bahamas, the Middle East, Libya, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and Japan.

Corporate Tax - Experts 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Richard Boulton QC secures recommendations from peers across Asia, Europe and North America for his practice, and is acclaimed as "a very, very good expert" with extensive forensic accounting expertise.

Biography

Richard Boulton is the chairman of Berkeley Research Group (UK) Ltd. He is a chartered accountant who advises clients on economic, accounting and valuation issues, specialising in the calculation and communication of complex damages. He has been engaged in over 300 litigations, including many of the world’s largest commercial disputes. He has given oral evidence on approximately 60 occasions in the English High Court, Copyright Tribunal, and European Commission (Competition Directorate) and before over 30 international arbitration tribunals. He has also co-written a best-selling business book on strategy.

Mr Boulton was previously the global head of finance and accounting services of a major expert services and consulting firm, which included the forensic accounting, damages and intellectual property, financial services and health care practice areas.

Mr Boulton spent 20 years with Arthur Andersen, including 11 years as a partner. He spent three years (1997-2000) as the number-two executive, responsible for over 70,000 people worldwide. His broader experience included several global leadership positions; 15 years of client work as a consultant on financial and economic issues, particularly in the media and energy sectors; and substantial experience as an expert in major commercial litigation.

Mr Boulton has expertise in multiple jurisdictions. For four years, he spent half his time in the United States (principally Chicago and New York). He has led major client assignments in the United States (Seattle, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, New York, Minneapolis, Midland), Eastern Europe, the Bahamas, the Middle East, Libya, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines and Japan.

WWL Ranking: Recommended
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