Vero Consulting celebrates five years advising lawyers and clients

Vero Consulting anniversary celebration

Five year anniversary

Founded in May 2016 by senior members of Moore Stephens’ forensic accounting team, this award-winning firm has established its reputation as forensic investigators and expert witnesses specialising in insurance claims, contentious business valuations, commercial disputes, compulsory purchase, commercial agency valuations and matrimonial finances.

The team members have remained unchanged since its founding, which means the firm provides continuity to our clients and consistency from case to case.

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Restoring trust in audit and corporate governance

Directors responsibilities

A two-tiered Board or more professional directors?

Spectacular company failures are usually the catalyst for changes to company law. Familiar names such as BHS, Patisserie Valerie, Thomas Cook and Carillion have collapsed after auditors have given them a clean bill of health, even after significant frauds have remained undiscovered for many years. These led Sir John Kingman to call for FRC’s replacement by a stronger regulatory body (a new Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority) capable of enforcing higher audit standards in his report with 80+ recommendations for improvement. Read More

Phishing emails are a major area of fraud

Fraud in emails

We have all seen an enormous increase in phishing emails since the start of the pandemic. For many of us our work involves multi £million dispute resolutions where clients expect communications to remain confidential or privileged. But many of us are still sending highly sensitive business information and bank account details in unencrypted emails. 

A reminder of the dangers came from a rather surprising source recently. A client of ours received a letter from HM Revenue & Customs where they set out the risks associated with sending information to them in emails. In their letter HMRC warned the client that using unencrypted emails could lead to the following risks:

  • Confidentiality and privacy – there’s a risk that emails set over the internet may be intercepted
  • Confirming your identity – It’s crucial that communications are with established contacts at their correct email addresses
  • They warn there is no guarantee that any email received over an insecure network, like the internet, has not been altered during transit
  • Attachments could contain a virus or malicious code.

Their advice went on to suggest either “desensitising” information in emails or using encrypted emails. 

The current global pandemic will continue to provide plenty of opportunities for fraud and opportunism. For example, there has been a substantial increase in phishing emails asking for either passwords, or inviting us to open attachments or to click on links.  

Perhaps fraudsters are responding to the fact that many of us are currently working from home on personal computers rather than office machines. This means we are operating outside corporate secure systems and procedures that we would have in the office.

Please now remind yourself and colleagues of the risks of doing so. We encourage all our clients to avoid including sensitive information in unencrypted emails, to password protect documents and memory sticks they send us and not to include bank account details in unencrypted emails.

While on this subject, we also need to check the urls of the sites we browse. Google say there are currently over 2 million phishing websites. Google’s Transparent Report contains up-to-date statistics and a tool for checking whether a site is safe (http://tiny.cc/safe-browsing).

In summary, we need to check the url of sites we visit, only open emails from trusted sources, encrypt sensitive emails, documents and memory sticks, use password managers and a VPN to access office files when working remotely.

What precautions do your organisations recommend and do you use encrypted emails for sensitive communications? Please share your own experiences in the comments box below or in an email to us. We would love to hear your thoughts and experience.

Keep Safe everyone,

Charles Lazarevic

Changes to Statement of Truth for CPR expert witnesses

Forensic accountant

New wording for Expert Witness Statement of Truth

A reminder to all solicitors that are currently instructing expert witnesses under CPR that from today PD35, paragraph 3.3 requires experts to include the following additional sentence in their Statement of Truth:

“I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.” Read More

Forensic accountants for Russian parties in arbitrations

Russian arbitration

Russian speakers for forensic accounting assignments in London

For our Russian clients we have created a new web page in Russian with details of some of the many expert witness reports and cross examination cases. These have included cases heard at arbitrations or courts in the UK and Cyprus for Russian companies and individuals. 

We are a nimble and conflict free boutique firm of highly experienced forensic accountants.  Our team can conduct assignments in any of nine European languages.

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Checklist for Concurrent Expert Evidence

Hot-tubbing

Assisting lawyers: preparing expert witnesses to give concurrent expert evidence

I have prepared a checklist for lawyers to consider when instructing experts to give concurrent expert evidence (commonly called “hot tubbing”) in court or at an arbitration. This guidance is based on my experience of giving concurrent expert evidence in arbitrations and in court.

Checklist:

• Always remember – the expert witness’s overriding duty is to assist the court/tribunal with their expertise.

• Draft the expert report in the knowledge that the judge/arbitrator may invite the expert with the apparently superior knowledge or more controversial position to take the lead in presenting the expert evidence.

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