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Total quality management and a ‘right first time’ attitude are well-established phenomena in the best run UK manufacturing companies but arguably less so in the legal profession. However, the new Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), introduced this year, impose far more of a requirement for lawyers to get it ‘right first time’ than was previously the case.Traditionally, many lawyers have delayed the appointment of an accounting expert or adviser until late in the litigation process. The idea that this will cost less for the client is often the primary motivator. But even before the CPR, the hidden costs of acting in this way often outweighed any ‘savings’ in expert fees, particularly when previously unconsidered issues were thrown up at a late stage. But a key risk of the CPR is that these issues will be exposed at an early stage, associated costs will no longer be hidden and there will be potentially serious consequences for the success of the litigation.So how can an expert accountant help? Until now, most discussion of expert accountants in the context of CPR has related to the appointment of a single joint expert, disclosure of an expert’s instructions and ensuring that the expert understands that his overriding duty is to the court. In other words, attention has focused on Part 35 of the rules relating to the instruction of experts for the court and not the use of an accountant as an adviser to the litigation; as important as Part 35 is to understand and incorporate in expert work. Those of us striving to make a real difference to our clients have broadened our attention to other areas of the CPR.

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