This evening will provide a demonstration of an examination in chief and cross examination of real life business valuators by experienced lawyers, before an experienced, senior Justice of the Court. The expert must come prepared to explain his or her qualifications in the field and to explain and support his or her opinion and report on examination in chief. . The expert will then face cross examination which attempts to cast doubt on the qualifications, the opinion and the assumptions on which it is based. The Court will make rulings on the parameters of the qualifications and address objections taken by the lawyers during testimony. At the end of the case, the Court will decide if the opinion is to be accepted or rejected by the Court. All of this is against an increasing role by a Court as the gatekeeper of expert evidence and the continued emphasis on the expert’s duty to the Court to be independent and not an advocate for his or her client.
The facts involve a claim by a CFO and part owner of a company who has sued for what he says is wrongful dismissal. The company defends on the basis that the departed CFO was terminated for just cause as he had engaged in wrongful conduct which included the use of company resources, to pursue the sale or expansion of the company, which the company says was contrary to the specific instructions provided to him. This may also be found to be a case of the CFO putting his own interests as a shareholder before the interests and instructions of the company. The company has also counterclaimed for the misapplied company resources.
An expert has been retained to provide an opinion on the value of the ex CFO’s ownership stake in the company, under two scenarios. The first is if the Court finds wrongful termination and second if the Court finds in favour of the ex CFO.
As an added wrinkle, there is some evidence that prior to his departure from the company, the ex CFO made statements that a purchaser could reduce operating expenses, which would have increased the value of his shares. As well, the shareholders are bound by a shareholders agreement, which provides a procedure for the valuation, repurchase, buying and selling of the shares, under different sets of circumstances.Mock Trial participants: The Honourable Roger T. Hughes – Ottawa, ON Cynthia R.C. Sefton, Senior Litigation, Partner, Aird & Berlis LLP, Toronto, ON Steven Hacker, CPA, CA, CBV, Partner, MNP, Toronto, ON Helen Norris, CPA, CA, CBV, Associate, Cohen Hamilton Steger, Toronto, ON Becky Seildler, CPA, CA.IFA, CBV, CFF, Vice President, KPMG Forensic Inc., Toronto, ON
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