To our forensic services team the term 'investigation' actually covers a huge spectrum of work, litigious and non-litigious.
We sometimes investigate matters that are not litigated, for example in connection with due diligence, where we might help clear up areas of doubt rather than suspicion.
Many cases are of possible wrongdoing, investigating fraud and white-collar crime. This will be on behalf of regulatory bodies, to investigate alleged misappropriation of funds, embezzlement or theft, or on behalf of companies and individuals via their solicitors in defence.
A fraud investigation typically involves IT forensics, tracing and examining data, documents, accounts and financial records. The safe capture of data for use as evidence is vital. Should you have grounds for suspicion then speak to us – and a legal representative before making any other move.
An investigation can be weakened or a case compromised if computers and files are seized in such a way that their use as evidence is prejudiced.
We have experience in a wide range of cases from disappearing pension funds to cross-firing of cheques and tax fraud.
Our investigation skills are also applied in corporate finance and insolvency assignments, where it might be necessary to check that accounts and records are correct and that there are no signs of irregularity.
Areas of work that we cover include:
The duty of an expert witness is to help the court (or other investigator of the facts) by unravelling usually complex financial data and providing an opinion.
The impartial assessment of evidence by an expert in the relevant field, and the inferences and conclusions that may be agreed to by that expert, are essential to the courts hearing cases that involve complex and specialised subjects.
As specialists in forensic accountancy, we produce reports and opinions to assist in the resolution of claims and disputes over accounts and financial transactions.
The Merali's team calls upon relevant expertise from across the group, according to the nature of the case.
We can summon industry specialists, tax specialists, corporate finance or insolvency experts, whose knowledge and opinion might be relevant to the interpretation of the facts.
We have acted as experts for one party, single joint experts, and as 'shadow' experts.
Our reports form the basis of the opinion we give in the witness box, so they must always be prepared to a standard that bears the scrutiny of the court. Our experts have given evidence in court on numerous occasions.
Work types that we have covered include:
Share valuations (S459 and the like)
Security for costs applications
Where possible it is best to avoid the great expense and time taken in court proceedings. Merali's provides services involving the professional skills of trained mediators or arbitrators, assisting parties to reach negotiated settlement before entering the court process.
An arbitrator is appointed to make a decision, which normally all parties must have agreed will be binding. This approach has consistently proved very successful.
In a different kind of role, a mediator is there to help facilitate the process of negotiation between parties, rather than to give an opinion or enter into negotiations themselves.
If you face a dispute that you fear could be heading for the courts, talk to one of our advisers. They will be able to discuss similar cases that we have helped resolve successfully out of court.