The UK’s largest professional accountancy
body has teamed up with a mediation and dispute resolution group to
form a high-level panel that brings together senior legal and
accountancy professionals to help resolve commercial disputes.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in
England and Wales (ICAEW) and the ADR Group’s resolving commercial
disputes service responds to the rising volume of commercial
disputes being resolved through mediation, the organisations

The service is intended for FTSE companies and
other large organisations facing complex commercial disputes that
could otherwise result in protracted and costly litigation.

ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza said at the
launch of the service that it is the first to combine the expertise
of both lawyers and accountants.

“The service offers cost-effective and quicker
solutions to avoid expensive litigation,” Izza said.

Accounting representatives on the 20-person
panel include Nigel Crockford, who was a partner with
PricewaterhouseCoopers UK for 24 years and is now a member of the
ICAEW’s corporate finance faculty board, Ernst & Young UK
partners Jim Eales and Philip Haberman, Deloitte UK partner Andrew
Robinson and KPMG UK partner Heather Stevenson.

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High profile representatives from the legal
profession include former England and Wales chief justice Lord
Woolf of Barnes and public law and human rights expert Cherie

Woolf is a key figure in alternative dispute
resolution in the UK. He was the architect behind the Woolf
Reforms, which came into effect in 1999 and changed the civil law
system in England and Wales. These rules introduced alternative
dispute resolutions.

Speaking at the launch of the ICAEW and ADR
Group initiative, Woolf said he found the combination of a lawyer
and an accountant works extremely well.

“It is a sensible use of the very close
relationship members of the institute here have with business. They
know the effect litigation has on business and the damage that is
done,” Woolf said.

He added that there is currently no policing
of commercial disputes services in the UK and that one benefit of
the partnering is the ICAEW will take a strong interest in