Philip is one of the top accounting experts in international arbitration and UK litigation, having first given expert evidence 25 years ago.
He has been actively involved in over 300 matters including commercial and contractual disputes, investment treaty disputes, transaction-related disputes, competition matters, disputes arising out of accounting and financial irregularities, and valuation disputes. He has given oral evidence and been cross-examined more than 60 times before several tribunals including the UK Courts (High Court, Competition Appeal Tribunal, County Court), international arbitration (LCIA, ICC, ICSID, SIAC and ad hoc) and overseas. He has carried out expert determinations to resolve disputes, has advised clients in CEDR-led mediations, and is a successful mediator.
Philip is willing to provide examples on request of specific cases in which he has acted, but his general experience includes the following.
He has dealt with consequential loss claims in various industries, including electricity (generation and distribution), oil and gas, manufacturing, aerospace and defence, retail, insurance and reinsurance, hotels and leisure, investment business, automotive, telecoms, and distribution. Many of these disputes involve some aspect of valuation – of a company, a business or a project – and Philip has given oral evidence on several occasions (in Courts and before arbitration tribunals) to explain the principles of commercial valuation and how they are applied in practice. Some disputes have had an intellectual property angle, and his experience includes both loss of profits and account of profits bases.
He has advised clients and given evidence on the interpretation of the accounting requirements of commercial contracts, including PFI contracts and cost- and production-sharing arrangements, and has given evidence on the financial and economic basis for transactions, in cases brought by the UK tax authorities.
He has given expert evidence in investment treaty disputes (under ICSID, ICC and UNCITRAL rules), acting for claimants (including cases against Egypt, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Czech Republic, Poland) and respondents (including Barbados, Venezuela, Croatia, Romania, Czech Republic, Georgia).
His experience in competition and related matters includes quantification of loss, evidence on causation, advice to banks on the justification for charges, and the assessment of evidence of wrongdoing.
In transaction-related disputes, he has advised on transactions with values up to £5 billion, on disputes where the parties’ positions have been up to £700 million apart, and where claims for breach of warranty have been so large as to exceed the original purchase price.
As a dispute resolver, he has acted as independent expert to determine disputes on 16 occasions (giving a mixture of non-speaking and reasoned determinations), he has given a non-binding neutral evaluation to assist parties in their settlement of a dispute, and he has successfully mediated disputes.
Philip has a degree in mathematics from Cambridge University. He qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG in 1980, and gained broadly-based general practice experience including audit (ranging from multi-nationals to proprietorial companies), transaction advisory services and special investigations. He specialised in forensic accounting from 1990 and became a partner at KPMG in 1991. He joined Ernst & Young as a partner in 2002 to lead their dispute advisory practice. In 2013, he launched Haberman Ilett LLP as a specialist firm, dedicated to providing accounting and financial expertise in the context of disputes.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a founder member of the Expert Witness Institute, a Professional Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and a CEDR-accredited mediator. He is also a Trustee of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.
At the early stages, Mrs Burn, my primary school teacher when I was seven years old. Her philosophy was to encourage everyone to find their own special ability; in my case she taught me maths to a level that I did not encounter in class until years later. As an adult, I learnt from every partner and manager I worked with, and I try to emulate all the best people I encountered.
A combination of the two, along with a healthy slice of luck.
I graduated in mathematics from Cambridge University and looked for a career that included finance in some way but also was likely to give me flexibility and opportunity in the future.
I’d had a varied career, with some experience in almost all areas of professional practice, when I was invited to set up KPMG’s forensic accounting department in 1990. I quickly realised that I had found my niche: the combination of problem-solving, reasoning, and explanation played to my strengths, and I enjoyed the work from day one.
Not at all – I find that every case brings a new dimension, and I learn something every time. For example, seeing both sides of cases, by sometimes acting for claimants and sometimes for defendants, helps me to anticipate arguments; acting as an expert determiner has taught me how best to present arguments; and being a mediator has taught me more about the negotiation process.
The first time, in 1990, was scary – but was helped by the fact that the previous witness was dreadful, so I knew I could not be worse. I’ve now been cross-examined nearly 50 times, but I still feel a combination of nerves and excitement before going into the witness box. Each time is a challenge, but one that I enjoy.
Take your time, and don’t be pushed into reaching firmer conclusions than are warranted. When you reach the witness box, be clear, concise and confident – you know your subject better than the specialist questioner on the other side.