Ask the Advisors – A CPAs Role in Litigation Matters
What role can you, as a CPA, play in my personal or business litigation matters?
CPAs are often called upon to render expert witness or consulting services in many types of litigation. Typical cases CPAs play a role in include complex commercial litigation, family law matters, shareholder disputes, estate and gift tax matters, and other matters where financial damages, business valuation and forensic accounting issues are at the forefront of the case. A CPA (financial expert) can also be involved in the alternative dispute resolution process, which generally occurs long before the case goes to trial.
Generally a financial expert is called upon because the issues at hand require an expert opinion that goes beyond lay person knowledge and testimony. While the opinions and testimony will typically occur later on in the case, significant contributions can be made by the CPA early in the case assisting in developing direction, document discovery, and creating an understanding of the calculations and financial analysis that may be necessary. Beyond the early stage case preparation, they can serve as expert witnesses during depositions and trial. Often they are used for cross-examination assistance for the opposing expert as well. They can also appear at mediation, facilitation and arbitration to offer the opinions and analysis that could also be used in trial. As with most financial matters, there can be tax implications that a CPA can assist with as well.