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Accountant Expert Witnesses - How Their Professional Rules Affect Their Testimony

Accountant expert witnesses have certain professional rules that apply to both work and testimony or reports involved in the cases or claims that these accountants will work with and in which may change what will occur. These professional rules affect how the expert works and what he or she will progress through with the evidence.

Professional Conduct

An accountant and other similar financial expert witnesses must progress through cases with professional conduct in place guided by principals from not only education but also experience. Accountants have an obligation through their profession to provide the utmost in honesty, integrity and confidentiality for clients and partners. Because of this, an accountant expert witness may report numbers and data that is counter to the argument of the lawyer if the circumstance demands it. The accounting professional assist in educating the courtroom about the financial matters involved in the case as well as business issues connected to the evidence.

Admissibility of an Accounting Expert Witness

There are rules that govern over the admissibility of an accounting professional, his or her testimony and reports given for the case
as based by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence these professionals standards are also under the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants which governs all professional services regarding accounting professionals. The guidance that these professionals have and must progress through involves both of these standards for litigation purposes in cases involving civil proceedings. A lawyer that hires an accountant to act as an expert witness must understand these rules and proceed through them as well.

Expert Testimony of Accounting Professionals

The testimony given by the expert witness will often depend on certain factors. Additionally, the accountant may work as a consultant on the case or an expert witness. The professional must abide by the CPA rules and work within the confines of integrity, confidentiality and the truth of the data given to him or her to work through for the case. These rules can affect testimony, but many expert witnesses and lawyers can work together even through these rules and limitations. When working as a team, these two professionals will understand what is possible in the testimony as applied through professional restrictions.

A Consultant or Expert Witness

Some accounting professionals will work with a lawyer as a consultant rather than an expert witness to explain facts, how the paperwork progress through accounts and different aspects of evidence. Some will work as a consultant to help the lawyer find a new accounting expert witness. As a consultant rather than an expert witness, the professional may not provide testimony unless he or she transitions to an expert witness over the progress of the case and the in-depth connection to the case materials necessary to form a professional opinion.

Rules of Civil Procedure

Civil and criminal proceedings are often similar but with processes regarding expert witnesses that are different. There are federal rules in professional expert testimony that requires the expert to give an opinion based on fact and relevant details that derive a story from either evidence or facts. Guidelines govern over that the person can disclose and discovery of evidence or injury. In federal lawsuits, the expert must provide a written report that includes opinions, evidence and case details. The lawyer can work with the expert to understand what the report will say, but the expert will usually give this report that includes opinions early on in the case.

The Professional and Standards

The accountant expert must work within the parameters of a professional accountant both in and out of the courtroom. This requires giving the report and any necessary testimony that keeps these standards in check. The accountant cannot provide details outside the scope of accounting processes or with financial matters he or she did not study or has experience of in the case. The expert must remain impartial and unbiased with evidence and when presenting the report and testimony for the case. For civil matters, these rules still remain in place.

The effect the rules have on the case can determine what the accountant can say such as keeping within the scope of accounting duties and knowledge and not giving a conclusion about the case in the usual circumstances. The expert will still work with the lawyer and can provide testimony, but he or she must remain within the confines of the limitations of the professional rules for all accounting expert witnesses and not surpass these or face disqualification.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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