Norman Cowan FCA FABRP MEWI MICArb MPNLA
1)What is your expertise? Insolvency and Forensic Accounting
2) How were you inspired to this field?Having the experience of working in the Accounting profession, Industry and the Insolvency, has given me valuable entrepreneurial skills and an understanding of how businesses operate. This has stood me in good stead when I chose to become an Expert Witness, as the experience gained allowed me to develop my investigative and reasoning abilities that are critical to writing a comprehensible balanced report.
3) Where did you start work as an Expert Witness? I qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PWC. My move from auditing was into commerce for two years, after which I worked as a specialist auditor in Chicago for the Blue Cross Medical Organisation. On my return to the UK I returned to the Accounting profession where I transferred to an insolvency department. In 1990 I formed my own general practice.My first Expert Witness appointment was in 1998 to challenge a claim for loss of profits as a result of misrepresentation. After that I began taking on more cases.
4)Why did you become a UK Expert? I consider that I have the ability to review the circumstances of a case and present a reasoned argument to support my conclusions. My knowledge has been augmented by obtaining the Cardiff University Expert Witness Accreditation and by becoming a member of the Network of Independent Forensic Accountants (NIFA).
5) When did you join EWI? I joined the Expert Witness Institute in July 2000
6) What does your work entail? My work involves a number of processes starting with the review all the witness statements as well any supporting documents that are relevant to the case. I also carry out research to bring a greater depth and understanding to the unique circumstances of each case
7) Have you a best expert experience? My best experience came from acting for the defence of an Insolvency Practitioner who was being sued for an alleged negligence carried out by his manager, leading to a claim of around £1m. The monetary claim had little merit, however the lack of diligence by the manager raised the question of negligence. My report led to a settlement for substantially less than that claimed. This case was rewarding since I could use my experience in both Forensic Accounting and Insolvency.
8) Your worst? The most frustrating experience I encountered as an Expert Witness arose when I acted for HM Revenue and Customs in a land mark case “Paymex Limited v HMRC”. In my opinion, HMRC’s case failed because the Tribunal considered aspects of an EU directive without considering the underlying factors that underpin insolvency law and practice in the UK.
9) Has Jones-v-Kaney affected your work? Whilst Jones-v-Kaney has been a landmark ruling, I’ve always believed that it is critical to ensure the correctness an expert’s opinions before agreeing to a joint statement. For example, there had been an instance where an opposing expert from one of the “big five” tried to convince me that I had agreed to a point which I had not. In my opinion this was a “try on”, which failed.
10) What is most significant EW change in recent years? Lord Wolff’s Access to Justice Report implementing CPR Part 35. I am interested to see the next development in “Hot Tubing”.
11) What satisfaction do you derive from acting as an EW? As an Expert Witness, I feel safe in the knowledge that my report will assist the Court in arriving at a fair conclusion. This helps to advance the notion of British Justice and I’m proud to say I am a part of that process.
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