There is no doubt that the introduction of single joint experts has helped to streamline the process of obtaining expert opinions, particularly within divorce proceedings. Nevertheless, there are times when additional input from a forensic accountant may be required by one, or both, of the parties. This is the role of the expert adviser or “shadow” expert.
Using a shadow expert is not as sinister as it sounds, it merely means that one party is obtaining advice directly from an expert and there is no need to disclose the name of the expert or indeed that advice has been sought from a shadow expert.
The role of the shadow expert is to provide expert assistance and advice directly to the instructing party and at Pierce Forensic we are seeing increasing instructions from parties seeking this additional support.
In the initial phases of the proceedings, we can assist with the preparation of questionnaires in respect of disclosures on Form E and the further information required to understand the financial position of the parties.
As shadow experts, we can provide technical and strategic advice and also assist with instructing the single joint expert to ensure that the relevant issues are highlighted and dealt with appropriately. We regularly advise on raising questions on the report of the single joint expert or clarifying aspects of the valuation process. The process is helped by direct and open conversations with the instructing party which would not be possible with the single joint expert.
We have seen many cases where it appears the single joint expert has not fully understood the financial position of a business or appears to have accepted too readily the position put forward by the business owner. It is vital that this position is corrected through properly presented questions to the jointly instructed expert.
Using a shadow expert can be particularly useful in complex cases combating the situation where one party is the business owner and is effectively already receiving the benefit of such advice from the company accountant.
At Pierce, we have considerable experience in acting as shadow experts within the context of divorce proceedings. We aim to provide cost-effective advice to assist the party achieve a fair settlement.
Reporting on business and share valuations together with advising on liquidity and the tax aspects of divorce. We also assist with the preparation of Form E and questionnaires.
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