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Dispute and forensic accounting services

When knowing matters

In complex disputes and litigation matters, Deloitte works with organisations and their lawyers in judicial and alternative dispute resolution forums, across a range of jurisdictions. Drawing on our deep expert witness, financial analysis, damage quantification, forensic accounting and discovery capabilities, we give our clients the insight and understanding they need to strengthen their case, at all stages of a dispute.

Find out more about how Deloitte can support clients and law firms in dispute matters.

Expert Witness Services

Unfortunately disputes involving money are an inherent part of life and business. Parties in dispute often need an expert witness to provide an objective opinion. Given the stakes involved, your dispute deserves an expert who has broad commercial experience and excellent communication skills. Our expert witness services are a key element of any process where quantum rests at the heart of the dispute.

Members of the Deloitte Forensic team have a significant amount of experience in the provision of independent expert witness evidence (both written and oral). The forum for these services has ranged from commercial negotiations between two parties, commercial litigation, family law, arbitration, expert determination, and multi-party class actions.

Our team of specialists has extensive experience in advising clients and their legal teams in a wide variety of disputes. Drawing on our deep expert witness, accounting, financial analysis, loss quantification, and discovery & analytics capabilities, we give our clients insight and understanding at different stages of a contentious matter.

To provide the most authoritative expert evidence, we provide access to the largest professional services network in the world giving you unrivalled breadth of discipline, industry and subject matter expertise that may be required in a dispute.

Our dedicated forensic accounting team are experienced in dispute processes and the requirements of written and oral evidence. By deploying specialist industry or subject matter expertise (where required) supported by our dispute specialists, we are able to combine Deloitte’s collective expertise, experience and judgement to create well-articulated points of view for use in dispute resolution.

Dispute Advisory Services

We provide dispute advisory services to our clients and assist them in protecting the value and reputation of business by addressing serious issues before they turn into crises.

The traditional approach to the case management process puts significant pressure on the time of senior stakeholders assessing the initial merits of a case and searching for relevant documentation.

With the significant majority of legal disputes resolved out of Court, new methods are vital to enable a timely assess the commercial impact of a disputed matter on a business. Working directly with clients and their legal advisors, our disputes and forensic technology experts can assist with the identification and extraction of critical documents, organisation and analysis of both structured data (such as databases and enterprise systems) and unstructured data (such as email messages and audio files), computer assisted review and assessment of evidence available in support of quantum claims.

Working alongside client’s legal counsel as expert advisors, our disputes professionals can provide valuable insight into the appropriate data for quantum claims, alternative scenarios and assessment of realistic quantum. Oftentimes, we also act in an advisory capacity either ahead of, or in parallel to, the appointment of another independent expert, as our clients often find it advantageous to explore elements of the claim in this way and ensure that the independent expert is properly instructed and briefed as efficiently as possible. These capabilities mean organisations are better able to prioritise efforts and resources across cases at the early stage.

Forensic Accounting Investigations

Unexpected financial results, financial misstatement, missing assets and suspected fraud are all common triggers for accounting investigations which require going beyond the financial statements to establish the facts.

Whether we’re investigating accounting “black hole” irregularities, asset impairments, complicated accounting schemes, discrepancies in the results of a subsidiary or concerns from an investor as to how an investment has performed, we apply our exceptional knowledge and skills to each individual case.

Not only can we investigate intricate accounting issues, but we can also advise clients on professional negligence claims, commercial disputes and other litigation matters related to accounting issues. We are highly practised at developing and implementing enhancements to internal accounting policies and procedures, as well as the associated internal controls, so as to reduce the risk of future errors or irregularities.

Our team has extensive experience in matters subject to arbitral clauses.

We are familiar with the nuances of arbitral proceedings and bring the same depth of expertise and rigour to these matters as we do to Court proceedings.

Our team are instructed across the full spectrum of the arbitration cycle: from claim development and detailed analysis of financial and business data through to written and oral testimony before Arbitral Tribunals.

Our forensic experts have been engaged by a number of corporate and government departments to assist with their response to major class actions, including those requiring the assessment of economic loss arising from alleged contamination of land, natural disasters and in connection with investment & banking products. 

We have provided a range of services throughout the life cycle of the proceedings, from project management, discovery, economic and accounting consulting expert services and independent expert testimony for Court.

We have also assisted Plaintiff class action law firms in matters such as the assessment of industry-wide losses, loss quantification and settlement administration. Further, we have configured the Deloitte Halo platform for Class Actions to provide a secure, configurable and scalable claims management platform that has been custom built to respond to the increasing pressure being placed on plaintiff firms and litigation funders on class action fees and commissions. Halo for Class Actions is a court accepted tool that drives efficiencies and creates competitive advantage across the class action lifecycle to support:

  • Quick claimant registration and book build
  • Efficient triage and assessment of claims
  • Streamlined distributions
  • Smart communications
  • Deeper, more useful data insights.

In addition to commercial litigation, we are also often appointed as experts in more personal matters, such as cases involving deceased estates and Family Law proceedings. At the heart of such matters is the question of the value of either the estate or the financial interests in the couple’s private equity interests. There may also be other issues that require forensic accounting skills, such as asset and funds tracing.

In Family Law matters, our experts are often appointed as independent single experts, as we have a strong reputation for being able to act impartially on behalf of all parties to the proceedings, no matter their complexity.

As well as valuations for family law matters, our experts are also often instructed in other dispute matters requiring valuation expertise, such as:

  • shareholder disputes and minority oppression matters (where the value of the underlying business is required to facilitate an exit of a shareholder)
  • compulsory acquisition and business disruption matters (including consideration of the principles of the relevant state acts such as the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986 (VIC), Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991 (NSW) and others)
  • intellectual property disputes, which may involve a valuation of the relevant intangible asset or assess the value of damages/account of profits
  • tenancy disputes, where a business valuation may be required in matters involving termination of a lease
  • valuation of fishing quotas, mining tenements and other assets
  • tax-related disputes, where the value of a business may be required for CGT cost base purposes and
  • post-acquisition disputes (including considering the impact on the value at which a business would have transacted had the relevant issues in the action had been known, consideration of “true value”, and expert determinations as to value).

In Sale of Business transactions, it is commonly the case that a percentage of a deal’s perceived value – often over 10% of the headline price – is placed ‘at risk’ and this can give rise to post-closing disagreements between buyer and seller. Such disputes can involve the assumptions that underpin the completion accounts struck at the date of completion or over warranties given prior to the sale.

Our team of forensic accountants has considerable experience in transaction disputes, including:

  • Numerous appointments as Independent Expert in sale and purchase / earnout disputes
  • Acting as consulting expert in the context of sale & purchase disputes and advising vendors and purchasers in relation to accounting issues in dispute and preparing submissions.

Although a large proportion of deals are closed with minimal (or no) such disagreements, a noticeable proportion do result in hard-fought negotiations or even formal dispute resolution procedures. Such disagreements, on the occasions when they do occur, not only risk significant value leakage but can also tie up significant senior management time.

While there is no certain way to predict which deals may generate post-closing difficulties, amongst the factors that in our experience may increase the likelihood of disagreements occurring are: accounting complexities and judgements inherent in a deal; the target’s financial performance falling below expectations; ambiguity in the accounting policies within the sale & purchase agreement; unfamiliar accounting policies; and cultural differences between buyer and seller.

  • A successful outcome from a transaction-related dispute, whether centred on a set of completion (or earnout) accounts or a breach of warranty, will usually involve:
  • An understanding of the acquired / sold business and its detailed accounting
  • An understanding of the accounting policies mandated by the sale agreement
  • Obtaining and collating the relevant evidence
  • Clear analysis and assessment of that evidence
  • Succinct, logical and supportable presentation of a position rooted in the sale agreement and/or technical accounting literature
  • Timely and effective decision making by the principal and its advisors as the process evolves.
  • Acting as expert witness in commercial litigation proceedings re accounting related disputes.

Deloitte has an outstanding and leading global reputation in this area, based on a track record of success on a significant number of assignments over 20 years. This continues today with a much greater emphasis on electronic detection and analysis tools to reflect the underlying nature of much of the evidence as well as the increasing sophistication of misappropriation schemes.

Our asset tracing team is experienced in working with legal professionals to locate, identify and freeze stolen assets. We are also experts at tracing a transaction from its origin through to destination. We can help you to recover assets through civil remedies and act as court-appointed receivers to seize and manage recovered assets.

Much of our asset tracing and recovery work is cross border, requiring a deep understanding of offshore jurisdictions. As one of the largest networks of Forensic practitioners in the world, we can call on international strength in Asset Tracing and Recovery, enabling us to safeguard stolen assets in offshore accounts before fraudsters are aware they are under scrutiny.

To ensure maximum effectiveness and efficiency, we use advanced techniques, combining accountancy based investigative methods with business intelligence and forensic technology.

Our team includes forensic accountants who are able to investigate whether an organisation has been charged or received benefits in accordance with contractual terms. Our experience in this area means that an organisation can be pro-active in managing their contracts as we have the expertise to:

  • Identify aspects of contracts susceptible to overcharging
  • Identify the scope and extent of potential mischarging
  • Provide a data driven solution where we can analyse complete data sets for abnormalities
  • Provide the client with granular insights in order to seek a refund/further monies from the other party to the contract
  • Recommend improvements for ongoing contractual compliance monitoring to minimise disputed items into the future and streamline & accelerate identification of non-compliance

The main focus of our team is to assist organisations to understand their position in relation to potential overcharging and provide management with detailed information that allows management to gain real insights when going to the negotiating table.

In recent years, we have helped a number of large Australian businesses navigate wage underpayment concerns and payroll issues. Whether the root cause was incorrect application of award rates or inadequate business practices, these can lead to reputational damage and the loss of trust from employees and the general public in the brand and the business.

Applying our forensic analytics capabilities alongside our forensic accounting expertise, we bring an outstanding depth of experience and can provide detailed modelling and recalculation for your workforce to deal with the matter quickly and confidently.

Where remediation of employees is required our team of remediation specialists are experienced in managing the end-to-end process, including communications, outcome issuance and query management utilising the Deloitte HALO platform.

Whenever there is a regulatory requirement to assess quantum of remediation payments, our experts can provide the necessary expertise on methodology, assessment and calculation for even the most complex of matters. Our team are skilled in not only performing large numbers of calculations, but also providing the guidance to steer calculation methodology and review the calculation models against the agreed remediation principles.

In particular, since the Hayne Royal Commission, a number of large organisations in the financial services sector have sought our expert advice in helping them assess and prioritise the remediation issues of concern and execute workplans to streamline the necessary remediation activities. Some examples of the types of matters we have helped clients with:

  • Review of a consumer product remediation calculator and recommendations to address calculation issues for a major Australian bank
  • Review of NCCP remediation, including products in and out of scope,
  • Review of Bank Guarantees remediation for a major Australian bank, including methodology and application thereof. methodology and considerations for remediation calculations, for a major Australian bank

To know more about Dispute and forensic accounting services, please contact our team.