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June 29, 2009

Accountants and lawyers team up on dispute resolutions

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 said.

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.

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 Booth.

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 standards.

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