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Appointing an expert, mediator or arbitrator to assist in a dispute

Guidance on how to identify and appoint an expert chartered accountant to mediate in a dispute.

Introduction

In the event of a dispute relating to financial or accounting matters such as a share valuation it may become necessary to appoint a valuer, other expert, arbitrator or mediator to help resolve the dispute.

This step by step guide assists with the process of identifying and appointing an expert chartered accountant to undertake the work required.

Due to the nature of the appointment it is essential that the process is open so that both sides to the dispute have an opportunity to input into the process and to rule out any potential appointees that they believe are conflicted or inappropriate.

Before you start the selection process it is worth considering whether there is an alternative way to bring the matter to a conclusion. If the amount in dispute is small it can be disproportionately expensive to appoint an expert and you may conclude that it would be better to settle the dispute by reaching a compromise.

Find a chartered accountant

The first step is to use the ICAEW’s online directory search (www.icaew.com/find) to identify potential firms of chartered accountants for appointment. This directory enables you to search by firm name, expertise and by location.

To avoid potential conflicts you may prefer to look for a chartered accountant outside your immediate area.

The search results are returned as a list of members and firms that match the search criteria.

You can click on ‘more information’ for any of the returned entries to access contact information (email, telephone and address) and to click through to their own website.

Individual websites

As the information on find a chartered accountant is limited it is sensible to take the additional step of visiting the website of anyone that you have identified as a potential appointee. This enables you to get a better feel for the type of work they undertake, how they operate and whether they are a good fit for your requirements.

Shortlist

Use the information you have gathered from individual websites to draw up a shortlist of potential appointees. It is probably worth including three or four on your shortlist as some may turn out not to be suitable, are unavailable or are conflicted from accepting an appointment.

Initial contact

The next step is to make initial contact with those on your shortlist. This can be done in person, over the telephone, by email or post. The purpose of the contact is to find out if the individual is a good match for your requirements. During this step you will be asking for:

  • Details of relevant experience in the required field (eg as a valuer)
  • Details of relevant experience in your own business sector
  • Details of any relevant specialist professional qualifications in addition to being a chartered accountant
  • Details of fee rates and how they are charged, for example do they offer fixed fees or be prepared to accept a fee cap? Can payments be made in instalments? What are the hourly rates? For the type of appointment in question how would the fees be divided between the parties?
  • Availability to carry out the work within the required timeframe.

You may also ask to see a copy of the potential appointee’s curriculum vitae.

Consider your options

Reflect on the information you have gathered and consider if there is anything else you need to check. For example do you want to check that the individual holds the additional professional qualifications they claim?

Decide which potential appointee best meets your requirements.

Appointment

Contact the appointee with full details of the dispute and the parties to it. Make sure that they complete a full conflict check before deciding whether they can accept the appointment.

At this stage you will need to agree the terms of appointment including timescales, fees, responsibilities of the parties etc.

Further information

Some further information that you may find helpful can be found at Appoint an independent expert, valuer or arbitrator, including an explanation of the difference between expert determinations, valuations and arbitration and ICAEW rules on expert determination.