Our team of experienced, qualified forensic accountants and investigators support DWF's lawyers and clients alike. Working seamlessly together, we deliver a truly multi-disciplinary service which leads to the provision of holistic legal advice.
Our forensic team is led by Chris Wheeler. Chris is a Fellow of the ICAEW and an accredited counter fraud specialist. He has over 20 years of experience as a Forensic Accountant and has spent more than half of his career working within the forensic teams at Big 4 accounting firms.
During that time Chris has helped clients to quantify and/or challenge losses, arising from business interruption, breach of contract, defamation, fire and water damage, breach of copyright and fraud. He has also led investigations pursuant to both the Fraud and the UK Bribery Acts.
"Our clients face business reputational risks from a number of sources, both external and internal, whether arising from disputes, regulatory anxiety, fraud or other financial irregularity. We aim to bring clarity to the scale and evidential quality of 'the numbers' and to perform our work quickly and cost effectively".
Our services include:
- Commercial disputes and international arbitration
- Professional indemnity insurance
- Personal Injury
- The regulatory environment
- Fraud, bribery and financial irregularities
- DWF RADAR
- Financial risk and compliance
By focusing on the costs and likely outcomes of various legal strategies from the outset, we ensure that our clients are well placed to make appropriate decisions to mitigate business threats whilst recognising the importance of avoiding significant costs and diverted management time.
Our forensic team work closely with our lawyers and clients alike in the following key areas:
- Early identification of quantum evidence and the preparation of calculations in support of losses, arising from breach of contract, breach of warranties or contract termination.
- Quantification of losses in connection with shareholder disputes.
- Identifying, instructing and project managing the appointment of independent quantum experts, as and when required.
- Analysing claims presented by third parties and the preparation of critiques which challenge any unreasonable heads of loss and expose areas which are evidentially unsound.
- Preparation of decision trees as a tool to facilitate the settlement process between parties in dispute, in particular during the course of mediations.
- Challenging claims for liquidated damages if there is doubt that such contractual clauses contain a genuine pre-estimate of loss.
- Preparation of independent expert reports on direct instructions from third parties.
"In one case, a claim against a construction client for defective work included over £5million for lost profits. Predicated upon losses arising from business disruption, the claim was eventually dismissed in its entirety by the adjudicator, following challenges presented after the close scrutiny afforded by the forensic review".
We support DWF's insurance business when our clients face claims under professional indemnity policies or business interruption.
"Typically we get involved with quantum heavy claims or where our clients need an early assessment of claimed losses to determine whether there are any reasonable grounds for challenge".
Carolyn Plummer is our expert in loss of earning and pensions arising from personal injury, clinical negligence and fatal accident claims. Carolyn is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.
"When it comes to personal injury, the devil is in the detail. At present there is a substantial multiplier effect as a result of the Lord Chancellor's revision to the discount rate… every pound of future claim successfully challenged is worth more than that to our insurance clients".
In the event that it seems likely that one of our clients might fall foul of a regulatory fine, likely to be based upon business turnover, we help our clients identify and extract evidence to support a case to mitigate the impact of the anticipated fine, by focusing upon underlying financial performance and business drivers.
Through the use of decision analysis, we are also able to demonstrate to our clients the costs and outcomes of likely legal strategies.
In the event that an investigation is required, response time is critical. We react quickly to:
- Identify key people (witnesses and suspects where applicable)
- Obtain key electronic evidence (such as images of computer hard drives and server emails)
- Commission intelligence of key suspects and related parties
- Conduct investigative interviews
- Assist our specialist lawyers with civil recoveries
- Prepare investigation reports
- Present findings to senior management and the Board as necessary
"One of the key benefits of an investigation team comprising investigative lawyers and accountants is the retention of legal privilege."
Identifying and analysing related parties, whether businesses or individuals, is an essential component of any investigation into suspected fraud, bribery or other financial irregularity.
"Conducting a thorough investigation is akin to pulling threads on a ball of string… usually it isn’t clear where the threads lead initially, but using intelligence helps unpick the mess and the details will eventually unravel. "
Our intelligence team comprises 16 intelligence analysts and is headed by Lisa Sanzeri, a former Police Strategic Analyst. In addition to public records, specialist industry databases and social media, our team has developed its own, unique, intelligence database, Dcypher.
"DWF Dcypher is a database containing over 25 million records and that number is growing all the time. Dcypher contains data from the Insurance Fraud Bureau; our own insurance claims handling knowledge and regular data feeds from all the UK's major insurance providers. When it comes to the provision of intelligence, DWF Dcypher is unique".
The preservation of business reputation is high on the agenda of any Board, professional or business owner.
Our bespoke due diligence reports (RADAR) enable our lawyers and clients to make better, risk based decisions when:
- Entering new stakeholder relationships with customers, suppliers or investors
- Prior to the appointment of key employees, in particular those charged with governance or fiduciary duties
- Tracing assets
- Considering new markets or jurisdictions
- Conducting internal investigations
Our intelligence team follows the National Intelligence Model and all our RADAR reports are Data Protection Act compliant, confidential and privileged.
Jacky Cattini is our head of financial risk. Jacky specialises in fraud prevention strategies, UK Bribery Act compliance and the evaluation of Risk Control Assessments with particular expertise within the financial services and insurance sectors.
Prior to joining the team at DWF, Jacky's career spanned the Metropolitan Police, the Insurance Fraud Bureau, Barclays and a Global Fraud Prevention role at HSBC.
"When it comes to the risk of losses through fraud, dishonesty or even error, it really does make financial sense to close the door before the horse bolts".
If you are an existing client and would like to find out more about dwf forensic and how it can benefit your business please speak to your client partner. Alternatively please contact Chris Wheeler or submit our contact form and we will get in touch with you to discuss your requirements.