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WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Global Elite Thought Leader Richard Boulton QC is a leading name in the market, and leaves clients “very impressed” with his deep expertise in valuation and damages analysis.

Questions & Answers

Richard Boulton QC is a chartered accountant and barrister who advises clients on strategic, regulatory, economic, accounting and valuation issues, with particular expertise in the assessment and communication of complex damages. He has been engaged in over 300 litigations, including many of the world’s largest commercial disputes, and has testified on over 60 occasions.

What inspired you to specialise in quantum of damages and valuation work?

As a new manager at Arthur Andersen in 1985, I was seconded to the litigation services group in the New York office. The US market for quantum analysis was much more sophisticated than the UK market. I worked with economists and statisticians in the US and returned to London with an ambition to create the premier economic and financial consulting practice, encompassing cutting-edge regulatory and valuation thinking.

How does your background in accounting enhance your current practice?

As a quantum expert, the accountancy qualification itself is useful but not vital; many damages experts are economists by training. Further, there are better experts than me on matters of accounting standards and audit practice. Complex damages claims require a broad set of capabilities: valuation, modelling, modern finance theory, economics and communication. Accountants often have a good grounding in these skills, but they also generally focus on the actual and the historical, whereas damages calculations focus on the counterfactual (what would have happened but for some event) and forecast data. As a barrister, the commercial experience as an accountant is very helpful (and a point of differentiation).

In your view, how has the shift towards more sophisticated calculations based on economic evidence created a challenge for tribunals?

I think this is one of the major challenges for tribunals, and also for international arbitration itself. Investment treaty cases, in particular, have a large damages component, with experts frequently very far apart in terms of the size of the loss (from billions of dollars to nil). Most tribunals are comprised of eminent lawyers, with a very good understanding of the law; but with genuine respect, there are few arbitrators who actively engage (or want to engage) with detailed quantum evidence.

Do you think the increase in transparency found in arbitration proceedings has encouraged experts to remain impartial?

I very much hope so. The main reason I have argued for publication of tribunal awards is to make it harder for experts to argue one way on one case, and another on the next case (eg for a low discount rate when acting for the claimant and a high discount rate when acting for the respondent). Of course, cases are fact dependent; and some experts “pick sides” (eg always act for the respondent). But I am optimistic that increased transparency will reduce the prevalence of “hired guns”.

How has covid-19 affected expert work and the type of matters conducted? Can you see these changes being long term?

The obvious short-term impact has been that hearings scheduled for 2020 have been deferred to 2021, which means we will all be busy next year. In the early days, clients and counsel were for the most part unwilling to trial full virtual hearings with witnesses in remote locations. That will likely change as more of us get experience of remote procedural hearings and lockdowns continue. There is no doubt that there will be more use of technology and less travel. What is as yet unclear is the extent to which that will apply to the major contested hearings.

What has been your most interesting case to date, and why?

The most interesting cases are those where the right approach to damages is initially unclear, and the most satisfying ones are where the approach and answer seem obvious by the time the expert report is written. I acted for Dow Chemical in an arbitration where there were 40 disputed issues between quantum experts, many relating to the impact of a terminated transaction on Dow’s cost of finance (taking into account the effects on credit ratings, bank borrowings, bond rates, equity issues etc). Early in my expert career, I was instructed as Argyll’s expert in their claim against Guinness arising from the latter’s acquisition of Distillers (an undervalued company with many valuable brands). This raised difficult conceptual issues about the cost of issuing shares, and the different impacts on shareholders and the company itself.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners undertaking their first cross-examination or hot-tubbing proceeding? 

Listen to the question (and make sure you understand it); answer the question first (and then elaborate if necessary); be reasonable and accept the assumptions you are asked to accept; remember that you are there to help the tribunal.

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

I struggle to answer this. I don’t have any clear personal objectives. I sometimes consider applying to be a judge. Everything else is pretty vague. I would like to train the next generation of damages experts; I would like to see fewer biased experts; I would like to see more courtesy in hearings.

Thought Leaders Global Elite - Quantum of Damages 2021
WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

Peers and clients say

"He's a big player, active on the high-value matters"
"He is in a class of his own"
"He absolutely smashed the opposing expert with his finesse, intelligence, and clear thinking"

Questions & Answers

Richard Boulton QC is a chartered accountant and barrister who advises clients on economic, accounting and valuation issues, with particular expertise in the assessment and communication of complex damages. He has been engaged in over 300 litigations, including many of the world’s largest commercial disputes, and has testified on around 65 occasions.

What do you enjoy most about your role as an expert?

In short, the teamwork and the intellectual challenge. I have always enjoyed being part of a team, both within BRG and the wider team including the client and instructing counsel. Sometimes, I still enjoy the challenges of cross-examination! Above all, I find the intellectual challenge posed by the most complex damages claims very rewarding, particularly when the right approach is not immediately clear. When it goes well, everything falls into place and you can communicate the solution in a way that makes it seem that it was obvious all along.  

How has the dynamic between arbitral tribunals and damages experts changed over the years? Does this help in determining expert reliability and independence? 

Determining the reliability of expert evidence is a major challenge for tribunals and something I have spoken and written about at length in the past. It poses a real issue for international arbitration as a whole. Experts often vary dramatically in their assessment of the size of a loss in cases with large damages components. Whilst tribunals are comprised of eminent lawyers, there are relatively few arbitrators who actively engage (or want to engage) with detailed quantum evidence.

With regards expert independence, I have long argued for more publication of tribunal awards to reduce the number of experts taking inconsistent views on different cases (e.g. for a low discount rate when acting for the claimant and a high discount rate when acting for the respondent). Obviously, all cases are fact dependent; experts are often instructed on the basis of their clients’ case; and some experts “pick sides” (eg, always act for the respondent). But, in my view, increased transparency will reduce the issue of “hired guns”.

My hope is that tribunals build up a sense – just as we do as experts and barristers – of who they can trust. It is worth understanding an expert’s credentials and whether they do 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.  

How does your practice as a barrister enhance the skills you bring to your role as an expert witness and vice versa?

As an expert, my work as a barrister has reinforced the need to make the complex simple. The simpler the argument, the more accessible the data, and the clearer the expert’s storytelling, the better. The simple truth is that there is no respect to be gained for making things overly complicated. 

My accountancy and expert background obviously enhance my ability to cross-examine financial experts. This helps me to know when experts and other witnesses are trying to avoid answering the question or are not being truthful. The risk – which is a real risk – is that the cross-examination can descend into an interesting intellectual debate – interesting to me, but not necessarily to the tribunal! 

To what extent has covid-19 affected valuations and other aspects of expert and barrister work in arbitration?

In my experience to date, the covid-19 crisis has had only a limited effect on the technical aspects of valuations. Valuations are forward-looking, and the majority of valuations look beyond what we all hope are only short to medium-term economic effects.  

The main impact of covid-19 has been the deferral of many hearings, as clients and counsel got used to the idea of virtual hearings. By early 2021, almost everyone has embraced virtual hearings, which in my experience to date have been very efficient. The genuine problem that has arisen from this restart to the calendar is that far too many hearings have been crammed into limited diary space, almost always without any proper consultation with the experts. There are real health risks in back-to-back hearings over an extended period, as well as the risk that experts (and counsel) are under-prepared. There is already too much stress in the adversarial process.

How have you adapted to online working? What advantages and disadvantages have you and your clients experienced? 

I think I have adapted fairly well. I have a good home office, with two screens and a VPN and do not usually miss my chambers room (despite its three-screen set-up!) and all the physical bundles. I am a big fan of electronic platforms for hearings. I have got used to the fact that I do not jump on a plane every month.

The downside is that every day is the same: same desk, same seat, same view, same interaction over Zoom and Teams rather than in person. I have always been poor at stopping work encroaching into my weekends, but in the new world there is no real distinction between weekdays and weekends.

BRG continues to actively recruit expert and professional staff. Although we have put many measures in place to support the onboarding of new hires, it is difficult to fully replicate the social and informal aspects of being part of a team and immersing oneself in the culture of a new firm. Some of our graduates have not yet been able to gain the full experience of office and city life, which is something we will work hard to rebuild once we can be together again. 

Ultimately, we have all been incredibly productive – as well as resilient to the ongoing changes and uncertainties throughout the world – over the past year. Flexible and remote working will become a permanent part of our working lives, and that is certainly a positive. The key as we hanker after ‘new normals’ – as with everything – will be balance.

Which sectors do you anticipate will have an uptick in arbitration disputes in the next few years, and why?

I don’t have a clear view on this, perhaps because I always focus primarily on my current cases and clients. In the past year, I have seen many investor-state disputes, particularly in energy, chemicals and mining, and have no reason to think that this will not continue. 

What skills and traits would you encourage in the next generation of testifying experts?

For experts of any generation, first, make sure you understand the question. Second, make sure you answer that question as directly as possible (and then elaborate if necessary). When being cross-examined, be courteous and above all reasonable. Remember that at the end of the day you are there to help the tribunal. Find your own style and improve by observing the approach of others during your career – experts, advocates and tribunals alike. 

How does your background in accounting enhance your current practice?

As a barrister, the commercial experience I have gained as an accountant is very helpful (and a point of differentiation). 

Many damages experts are economists by training and the accountancy qualification itself is useful but not essential. I am not a specialist in accounting standards and audit practice. Complex damages claims generally require a broad set of capabilities: valuation, modelling, modern finance theory, economics and communication. Accountants often have a good grounding in these skills, but where the traditional accounting perspective is a focus on the actual and the historical, damages calculations focus on the counterfactual (what would have happened but for some event) and forecast (predictive) data. 

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

I don’t tend to think very far ahead. My advice to more junior colleagues has always been to do your current task to the utmost of your ability, even the humdrum tasks, and you will find that you progress fast even if sometimes in unexpected directions. This has worked well for me (perhaps a rare example of where I have followed my own advice).

I would like to help develop the next generation of leading experts at BRG, as I did at Arthur Andersen in the 1990s. I would like to reduce expert bias. I sometimes consider applying to be a judge, but I am very happy with the combination of challenges and fulfilment that my current barrister and expert work bring. 

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

Peers and clients say

"He's a big player, active on the high-value matters"
"He is in a class of his own"
"He absolutely smashed the opposing expert with his finesse, intelligence, and clear thinking"

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, the Copyright Tribunal and the 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 healthcare 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 USA (principally Chicago and New York). He has led major client assignments in the USA (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 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Richard Boulton QC is revered for his outstanding experience in contentious tax-related proceedings.

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, the Copyright Tribunal and the 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 healthcare 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 USA (principally Chicago and New York). He has led major client assignments in the USA (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.
Alternative website: www.oeclaw.co.uk

WWL says

With over 15 years of experience, Richard Boulton QC is a “very good tax expert” with a great understanding of supply chain issues and corporate taxes.

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, the Copyright Tribunal and the 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 healthcare 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 USA (principally Chicago and New York). He has led major client assignments in the USA (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

WWL says

Global Elite Thought Leader Richard Boulton QC is a leading name in the market, and leaves clients “very impressed” with his deep expertise in valuation and damages analysis.

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, the Copyright Tribunal and the 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 healthcare 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 USA (principally Chicago and New York). He has led major client assignments in the USA (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

WWL says

Richard Boulton QC is widely regarded as a top-tier accounting expert with an "excellent" knowledge of commercial disputes.

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, the Copyright Tribunal and the 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 healthcare 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 USA (principally Chicago and New York). He has led major client assignments in the USA (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

WWL says

Richard Boulton QC is effusively praised by commentators, who say, "Aside from being brilliant, he has an authoritative presence that makes him an excellent expert witness."

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, the Copyright Tribunal and the 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 healthcare 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 USA (principally Chicago and New York). He has led major client assignments in the USA (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.

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