Forensic accounting may be described as being the integration of an individual's accounting and auditing knowledge with investigative skills that have been gained from years of practical experience.
It is the means by which the forensic accountant will review instructions given by a client, usually through a solicitor, thoroughly investigate those instructions and the underlying circumstances, examine the financial information and any relevant contracts and other agreements, obtain appropriate evidence, prepare any appropriate calculations, form a conclusion and publish the whole in the form of a report suitable for presentation to the court.
In conducting his work the expert will have regard to Civil and/or Criminal Procedure Rules which require the case to be dealt with, in so far as in practicable.
in ways which are proportionate:
- to the amount of money involved
- to the importance of the case
- to the complexity of the issue, and
- to the financial position of each party
The report will be fully supported by and cross referenced to the evidence and the forensic accountant will acknowledge that in preparing the report his principal duty is to the court, that he expects to be cross examined on its contents and to be criticised if it is found wanting in any respect.
Forensic accounting often involves examining and commenting on a report prepared by an opposing expert. The forensic accountant should also expect to be required to assist those instructing him in preparing questions to be addressed to the other principals in the case, as well as the other expert, both prior to any hearing as well as in court.
Forensic accounting skills are called upon in many situations but the principal ones may be considered to be:
- Shareholder and partnership disputes
- Matrimonial disputes
- Professional negligence claims
- Personal injury claims
- Business interruption and similar insurance claims
- Fraud investigations
- Criminal investigations
The same skills, including those gained from attendance in court, may well lead the forensic accountant to consider undertaking further training in mediation and arbitration procedures so as to become involved in dispute resolution.
Careers in Forensic Accounting
For more information on training in the field of Forensic Accounting you may find the following websites useful.