Cross-Examining the Forensic Accountant


Some things just don't get old. This paper was written about 15 years ago. A few months ago, the author asked a senior partner of an international valuation and forensic accounting firm to critique how it could be updated. His advice: Don't change a syllable. It's as current now as it was in 1993.

For centuries, the most powerful engine of truth in trial practice has been cross-examination. A powerful cross-examination by skilled counsel can undress even the most-polished witness. But courtroom bravado and flourish is usually not enough to persuade the judge or jury. You need to focus on the witness -- and especially when the witness is an expert who is accustomed to testifying in a particular field. These expert witness are unlikely to melt in response to your tough questions.

In commercial litigation, the expert testimony of the forensic accountant and business valuator has become an indispensable part of proving your case. Knowing how to make the most your accounting and valuation evidence is crucial. It requires skill and preparation to ensure that the Court accepts your expert's version of the damages.

In this paper, Igor Ellyn, a senior business litigation counsel in Toronto, Canada, systematically analyzes how counsel can maximize the benefits of cross-examination of the opposing party's forensic accountant and business valuator. Checklists for your cross-examination will also prove a very worthwhile resource. The suggestions and templates in this article can be applied to the cross-examination of other experts with very little modification.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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