A forensic accountant can act in a range of roles such as an expert witness or consulting expert, provide investigation services or simply assist in preparing evidence that will be relied on by others for the purpose of litigation, or anticipated litigation.
When engaged as an expert witness, a forensic accountant will prepare an independent expert report expressing opinions on financial and accounting matters related to legal proceedings. If the matter goes to Court, the forensic accountant may also be required to provide oral evidence and be cross-examined on the opinions expressed in their independent expert report – hence the term 'expert witness'.
When engaged as an expert witness, a forensic accountant must comply with the following duties set out in the Independent Expert Witness Codes of Conduct imposed by Australian Courts:
- The paramount duty to the Court which overrides any duty to the Client or Employer,
- A duty to assist the Court on matters relevant to the forensic accountant's area of expertise in an objective and unbiased manner,
- A duty not to be an advocate for a party, and
- A duty to make it clear to the Court when a particular question or issue falls outside the forensic accountant's expertise.
If a forensic accountant fails to comply with the Independent Expert Witness Codes of Conduct, his/her expert report and testimony may be held inadmissible in Court.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.