THE ACCOUNTANT S ROLE IN THE LITIGATION PROCESS in .NET framework

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463 THE ACCOUNTANT S ROLE IN THE LITIGATION PROCESS
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party only for injuries or losses actually sustained and proved to have arisen directly from the violation of the plaintiff s rights Consequential damages are foreseeable damages that are caused by special circumstances beyond the action itself They ow only from the consequences or results of an action Punitive damages are intended to penalize the guilty party and to make an example of the party to deter similar conduct in the future They are awarded only in certain types of cases (eg, fraud) The quanti cation of damages is primarily a question of fact The burden of proving the damage amount normally falls on the plaintiff Although accountants can be used in cases in which damages are not an issue, accountants are most frequently used in cases in which damages are an issue
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463 THE ACCOUNTANT S ROLE IN THE LITIGATION PROCESS
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Typically the accountant is hired by attorneys representing either the plaintiff or the defendant In some cases, however, an accountant may be engaged directly by one of the parties to the action No matter who engages the accountant, a number of possible roles might be played A litigation consulting practitioner can work as a testifying expert, a consultant, a trier of fact (eg, an arbitrator), a special master (working for the court), or a court-appointed neutral party (an expert, not for the parties to the dispute, but to the court as a neutral party) A detailed discussion of the role of the testifying expert and the consultant follows (a) THE TESTIFYING EXPERT Frequently, the accountant s purpose in the case will be to develop and render an opinion regarding nancial or accounting issues Ordinarily, only facts and rsthand knowledge can be presented by witnesses at trial The only exception to this rule is the testimony of experts, which can include an expression of the expert s opinions According to the courts and the law, experts are those who are quali ed to testify authoritatively because of their education, special training, and experience Clearly, a professional accountant can qualify as an expert in issues relating to accounting and nancial data As discussed in Subsections 464 and 465, the accountant as expert may be asked to develop and present evidence in support of any or all of the required proofs For example, the accountant can review and offer an opinion as to the adequacy of the work performed by another accountant in a professional liability suit (proof of liability) Or the accountant might review the nancial records and the business environment of a company to determine whether a bank s withdrawal of credit caused the company to go out of business (proof of causation) Most commonly, the accountant will be asked to provide an opinion regarding the economic loss suffered by the plaintiff in the case or to rebut the damages alleged by the plaintiff on behalf of the defendant (proof of damages) (b) NONTESTIFYING CONSULTANT In certain situations, the accountant will be asked to be a consultant rather than a testifying expert The accountant will take on more of an advisory role and will not provide testimony The work the accountant performs for the attorney as a consultant is generally protected by the attorney s work product privilege and as such is not discoverable by the opposing party For this reason, accountants are often engaged initially as consultants This enables the attorney to explore avenues and conduct analyses from which he might want to shield his testifying expert However, once the accountant has been designated as an expert, all work products may be subject to discovery (c) COMPARING LITIGATION CONSULTING SERVICES TO ATTEST SERVICES The role of the practitioner in a litigation consulting engagement is different from that in an attestation engagement, where the CPA expresses a conclusion about the reliability of a written assertion of another party In a litigation consulting engagement, the practitioner is the asserter and must support and defend any conclusions reached against challenge In an attestation engagement, the audience is composed of all persons relying on the accountant s report, whereas in a litigation consulting engagement, the audience for the litigation consulting
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