Dispute and investigation services

FRP provide expert services to give the best chances of successful recovery in a dispute. We have experts to help you achieve a constructive resolution in all matters relating to litigation, arbitration, mediation and enforcement, and we can tackle disputes of all sizes.

Our Dispute & Investigation Services Team comprises specialists in forensic accounting, computer forensics, forensic technology and contentious insolvency who work seamlessly together to deliver effective solutions for litigation strategy, data management, investigations and recovery.

Supporting litigation and recovery at every step

From pre-issue to enforcement, FRP has the expertise and specialist skills to handle any issue. Our experience covers disputes, including:

  • loan or guarantee defaults
  • contractual defaults or disagreements,
  • relationship breakdown between parties
  • absconded or uncommunicative debtors
  • suspicions of misapplication, misuse or dissipation of funds
  • fraud
Dispute Investigation Services Table

Pre-litigation consulting & investigations

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We assist with all aspects of pre-litigation considerations, from assessment of recoverability to financial loss and early-stage quantum calculations, as part of a prospective claimant’s decision whether to commence further action.

Early involvement at this stage ensures that key measures and processes are in place to safeguard evidence, to formulate solid litigation and enforcement strategies and to prepare for contingencies in recovering assets and damages. This could include an early retainer of an expert and/or advisor with a view to a subsequent potential Part 35 CPR instruction.

Case Study: High-profile investigation of major UK retailer

We were instructed to provide pre-litigation advice to support a potential claim regarding outstanding loan notes from an insolvent company in a complex trading group structure.

We provided high-level financial analysis to support the pre-litigation strategy and to assist in considering different solvency and insolvency options which ultimately led to a satisfactory recovery for the client without the need for further action.

Data recovery and preservation

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Our technology experts secure data in a forensic manner to a Court defensible standard. Often working in challenging environments, the team can obtain, secure and safeguard hard copy and electronic data in any situation from an own-side data snapshot or discreet historic backup to Court-warranted hostile seizures.

Following capture, all potentially relevant data is processed into our in-house platform, Relativity.

Case study: Data recovery with minimal impact to the client's operations

FRP were engaged to collect a client's data from both a live and a dormant environment including file share data, email servers, cloud-based stores and digital assets such as laptops and mobile phones. This was required whilst the business continued to trade and minimal disruption to the operations was essential.

A team of collections specialists were able to work with the client's internal IT team to extract data from the least impactful data sources including the emails and dormant file storage devices. Following this, a timeline was put in place to collect and preserve the remaining assets based around staff availability and out of office periods as well as evenings and weekends.

During a six-week period, FRP were able to collect in excess of 4TB of data relating to 12 individuals within the business with minimal impact to the client's operations.

Data hosting, management and production

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Using our in-house Relativity platform mitigates the risk of breakdowns in communication between an external disclosure provider and the litigation team. Access is entirely flexible with full data sets being made available via remote connection for internal, client and/or legal teams.

We assist with all aspects of searching and review (including data analytics) as well as productions for disclosure purposes.

Case study: Complex data gathering and processing across a series of group entities

As part of a high-profile liquidation appointment over a series of group entities, we collected over 30TB of data directly on appointment and via disclosures from third parties. The wide variety of data types included server data, different software platforms, email mailboxes, mobile phones and laptops as well as hard copy data that was scanned for processing.

Over 2TB of data was processed and/or loaded into Relativity, where our forensic team worked together to identify potentially relevant documents for review and prepare workflows for such review for a wide variety of investigation workstreams. We utilised technology assisted review (TAR) to meet our extensive disclosure obligations producing documents under Practice Direction 51U for disclosure.

Disclosure and review assistance

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Our experienced team provide assistance with disclosure and document reviews, especially where data is financial in nature. We resource our project teams according to the quantity and complexity of documents.

We often conduct single reviews on broad range data sets as well as first-pass reviews on significant key data sets for second review by legal teams. Our cases range from performing discrete exercises to large volume reviews of several terabytes of data.

Case study: eDisclosure in international dispute

FRP was engaged by a leading multinational law firm to provide eDisclosure document review services relating to a dispute between high-net worth individuals and an Eastern-European bank.

We assisted with the first and second level document review for both the incoming and outgoing disclosure teams, coding documents for relevance and privilege.

Our forensic technology team was also able to assist the law firm’s third party eDisclosure data host with areas of best practice project management for the selected data platform.

Conversion and analysis of financial data

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Where cases include large volumes of financial data (such as bank statements) that require detailed review, we draw on our forensic expertise and specialist software solutions to digitise data into spreadsheets for efficient and accurate analysis.

Our experienced team carry out reviews of the underlying data and provide relevant analysis on key matters as required.

Case study: Large scale conversion

A case involving professional negligence proceedings required conversion of c50,000 hard copy pages of bank statements across 25 different accounts with 3 banks over a 5-year period.

Having quickly converted the source documents, the resultant spreadsheets allowed our forensic accountants to produce cash flows and provide detailed analyses on funds extractions and creditor payments in circumstances where virtually no reliable accounting documentation existed.

Expert instructions on liability and/or quantum

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Our forensic accounting partners frequently act as independent experts in litigation and arbitration proceedings on a range of accounting issues.  Chris Osborne has been cross-examined on a number of occasions, maintaining a “moderate and measured”* approach.

Early-stage involvement in reviewing quantum is important to help drive case strategy throughout a dispute.

*[European Real Estate Debt Fund (Cayman) Limited (In Liquidation) v Anoup Treon & Ors [2021] EWHC 2866 (Ch)]

Case study: Expert report on fraudulent misrepresentation of financial performance

Chris Osborne was instructed as an independent forensic accounting expert by the defendants in relation to a claim in respect of fraudulent misrepresentation of the group’s financial performance. We prepared an expert report considering certain financial documentation at the request of the Court, as well as responding to the Claimant’s expert report. The judgment, handed down in October 2021, found in favour of the defendants on the basis that the claim was statute-barred.

The judge commented that the experts “were very well qualified to assist the court. There was a large measure of agreement between them, reflected in their helpful joint statement. Both gave oral evidence. Each was moderate and measured and did their best to assist the court.”

Case study: Independent expert for international arbitration proceedings

Chris Osborne was instructed in LCIA international arbitration proceedings to act as an independent expert in proceedings with damages in excess of €50m. We prepared an independent expert report on behalf of the respondent quantifying the Claimant’s loss and the respondent’s counterclaim. Mr Osborne provided expert witness testimony at the hearing. The Arbitrator found fully in favour of the respondent, dismissing the claimant’s case in its entirety.

Asset reviews, early enforcement strategy and pre-emptive protective measures

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We assist with early asset and means reviews as well as contingency planning to ensure effective recovery outcomes once judgment has been obtained or is imminent. We conduct high-level open-source reviews on potential targets through the lens of a prospective insolvency officeholder to assist with litigation and recovery strategies.

Where assets are at immediate risk of dissipation, we can act as Court appointed receivers or provisional liquidators to safeguard assets and take control of entities at risk through their current management.

Case study: Asset monitoring prior to bankruptcy

Early involvement as prospective trustee in bankruptcy during the litigation allowed us to build a detailed picture of the target’s asset portfolio and monitor dealings in the run up to the bankruptcy order.  On appointment, we were able to quickly reverse and challenge substantial property transactions, resulting in substantial dividends to the claimant creditor.

Case study: Provisional liquidation

Provisional liquidation appointment over a number of entities accused of defrauding the claimant for substantial sums.  The appointment enabled us to secure assets, stop any further dissipation of funds and collect company data in advance of the eventual liquidation.

Insolvency appointments

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Where a party ultimately fails to pay sums due, whether after settlement, judgment or award, insolvency is often the consequence. Our insolvency practitioners specialise in contentious insolvencies and act as officeholders in all types of corporate and personal insolvency matters. The officeholder has vast powers of investigation and recovery beyond those typically available in civil litigation. Stepping into the position of the insolvent, the officeholder can quickly gain visibility on historic affairs and identify transactions capable of claw-back via the statutory avenues available, including misfeasance, preference payments, transactions at undervalue and transactions defrauding creditors.

Our practitioners often accept appointments even when the insolvent estate has no apparent funds remaining. In these circumstances we can explore alternative and flexible arrangements, including contingent fee structures or through external funding where required. Recent notable insolvency appointments have included Patisserie Valerie, Comet, BHS and Pramod Mittal.

Case study: Investigation into bankruptcy results in successful recovery of wealth

Bankruptcy of former high net worth city trader with self-professed nil wealth on appointment. Investigations revealed substantive dissipation of property assets and cash to associates.  Robust action resulted in the successful recovery of substantial wealth with payment of over 60% of the bankrupt’s debts to creditors.

Case study: Swift investigations result in the full repayment of all creditors

Compulsory liquidation of property SPVs in suspicious circumstances.  After swift investigations, claims were brought relating to the transfer of property worth over £70m.  Settlement achieved with connected parties enabling a full repayment of all creditors.

Related team

David Hinrichsen

David Hinrichsen

  • Director
  • Restructuring Advisory
  • London

Christopher Osborne

Christopher Osborne

  • Partner
  • Forensic Services
  • London

Paul Allen

Paul Allen

  • Partner
  • Restructuring Advisory
  • London

Geoff Carton-Kelly

Geoff Carton-Kelly

  • Partner
  • Restructuring Advisory
  • London