Interview with: Chris Osborne, Partner
FRP Advisory | View firm profile
Chris Osborne, Partner in the Forensic Services team at FRP, explains how the firm’s tight-knit team delivers exceptional results for clients:
What do you see as the main points that differentiate FRP from your competitors?
At FRP, we’ve built an innovative and highly skilled forensic accounting department with particular strengths in insolvency, fraud and arbitration-related work. We’re known in the industry for having a tight–knit team with excellent judgement, enabling us to provide constructive resolutions for a wide-range of complex investigations and disputes.
We invest in attracting the best talent and upskilling our people to develop a team with a broad range of disciplines and skills. Our team consists of specialists in their field with decades of experience, from experts in international arbitration to forensic technology professionals. Having an approachable team allows us to build trusted relationships with our clients and external partners.
When complementary expertise is required for a case we can draw on the skill-set of other teams from across the firm, such as working with specialists from our corporate finance team for complex valuation matters.
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
An area we would expect to see more of a focus on is forensic technology. Several factors are driving this, including: the new disclosure protocols introduced in January 2019; an anticipated uptick in fraud investigations and contractual disputes emanating from the economic fallout from the pandemic; and a general increase in commercial disputes and significant competition and class action assignments. The skills of our forensic technologists are ever-more in demand.
Increasingly, companies are creating, sharing and storing vast amounts of data across a wide range of systems, and are looking to use cutting-edge technology to overcome new challenges. Lawyers are turning to us to deliver data collection and eDiscovery services, which typically involves significant amounts of complex data. Our experts undertake advanced analytics, language identification, concept searching, email threading, near text duplication and continuous active learning.
What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
As we see a greater desire from clients for advice on more complex matters, we’ve strengthened our team by recruiting a broad range of talent from across the industry.
Our team has experienced a period of significant growth, expanding by more than 45 per cent in the last 12 months. We have made a number of strategic appointments and promotions in the last year and invested in upskilling our team. The result of this is that we have added to our ability to work on larger, more complex cases, such as international arbitrations, contentious valuations, competition matters and cases requiring analysis of large datasets, adding greater value for our clients.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
We constantly review new technologies to make our work more efficient, cost-effective and enhance our client experience. As just one example of this in practice, our forensic technology team recently saved a client an estimated £1.25 million in document review costs. Our client was an international law firm that instructed us on a legal dispute based in a foreign jurisdiction. The firm’s client had around 1,000GB of email data and electronically stored files, that required processing, review and disclosure in a tight three-week turnaround. Our forensic technology team collected and processed close to three million documents for review in our document review platform, Relativity. Our team also used Continuous Active Learning (CAL) on the case, to continue to reduce the dataset and streamline the document review process.
As a result of this use of technology, the law firm completed the initial review in under a week, saving a significant sum in potential review costs.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
We have experience in many forms of dispute resolution including litigation, arbitration, mediation and expert determination. Our partners have acted as party appointed expert, single joint expert, expert determiner, shadow expert and adviser, and have experience of giving evidence in the High Court.
It’s this breadth of experience that adds value to our clients. One example is a recent case where I acted as a quantum expert on behalf of a US-based manufacturer defending a claim regarding loss of profits. Following submission of the expert reports and a joint statement of experts, I was cross-examined in the High Court. The judge found in favour of the defendants on multiple issues, including in relation to the intercompany and quantum issues, a significant result for our client.
As a team we have built this level of experience over many years, and it allows us to act on some of the most complex dispute cases requiring cross-examination in the High Court or Tribunals.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their professional advisers – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
Clients are looking for strategic direction and stability from advisers, and our focus as a firm is to bolster our offering in response to continually increasing demand for our expertise and services.
FRP is a progressive firm. The benefit of being flexible and dynamic is that we can assist clients all over the UK and internationally. As a result, our strategic direction is to build our portfolio of dispute cases and complex investigations.
To meet this goal, we will continue to grow our headcount and invest to bring more talent on board. We also plan to retain our focus on developing the people within the forensic services department, so in the coming years our current team will progress and add additional experience to their skillset. In three years’ time we expect the number of experts in our team to have increased significantly.