Alpha Financial Experts K.K.
7F Ginza 1-chome Bldg.,, 1-15-4 Ginza, Chuoku,
104-0061, Tokyo, Japan
Makoto Ikeya is singled out by market sources as "an excellent communicator" and a leading expert who is a highly sought after for his "formidable skill in persuading a neutral in an understandable language".
Makoto Ikeya has worked for more than 20 years as a damage and valuation expert on matters of commerce, securities and finance, anti-trust, IP, and tax. Prior to founding AFE, he served as managing director at Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory’s valuation, modelling, and economics group. He also served in senior leadership roles at AlixPartners and NERA Economic Consulting. Ikeya holds a Master of International Affairs, with a concentration in international finance and business, from Columbia University.
Describe your career to date.
I have provided expert witness services for more than 20 years primarily on damage and valuation matters in 1) international arbitration (commercial dispute cases such as Suzuki v VW and those involving auto/manufacturing/healthcare companies), 2) appraisal litigation (ongoing and other cases including Intelligence, Tecmo, and Toho Real Estate), 3) securities litigation (cases including Olympus, Seibu Railway, IHI, and Livedoor), and 4) Patent/trade secret litigation (cases involving Toshiba, Nippon Steel, Canon, NEC and Nichia).
What is the most memorable case you have worked on, and why?
I would pick a case at JCAA where an auto OEM was in dispute with its foreign distributor about the damage caused by the alleged breach of contract. The damage quantum was complex since it required estimates from a viewpoint in the past. The question was how to reasonably estimate the profits under actual and but-for scenarios using only the information available at the time of valuation, discount them back to the valuation point, and take the difference of the present value as the damage. It was valuable to closely work with the client and counsel to properly reflect in my damage analysis the industry practice and legal principles, such as the legally sufficient level of cause and mitigation of damage. After submitting my expert witness report, the case was settled largely in favour of the client (the auto OEM).
Why did you decide to set up your own firm?
I wanted to create a truly independent professional firm. The expert work, especially the expert witness work, requires a high level of independence in order to provide fair and unbiased opinions. On the other hand, it faces a lot of conflict of interest arising from the contentious nature of the engagement, especially while working for large organisations. Being independent is also important to keep the flexibility and integrity of our professional work.
What is the key to succeeding as an expert across multiple arbitration institutions and courts in a wide range of jurisdictions?
I think that the key is to keep the local strength. Even if the case is litigated or arbitrated in foreign jurisdictions or institutions, local issues may require local expertise. For example, if the stock price of an unlisted Japanese company is in dispute in SIAC or ICC, an opinion from Japanese valuation experts with good knowledge of local markets and industries may be highly weighted.
Do you think the increase in transparency found in arbitration proceedings has encouraged experts to remain impartial? Or do you think further steps are needed?
I think that the increase in transparency will place more pressure on experts to keep impartiality and integrity, which I think is good. I expect that we will more frequently see a separation of a testimonial expert and a consulting expert. The transparency of a testimonial expert may more broadly be required but the communication with a consulting expert should be given some protection.
How have supply chain shortages and price volatility contributed to disputes brought to arbitration?
China has been closely linked to the global supply chain network, especially for Japanese manufacturing companies. The zero-covid policy implemented in China had cut the link by suspending supplies from China, including those from Japanese subsidiaries. It seems that the shortage of goods and services due to the supply chain problem was generally tolerated among Japanese parties. Also, I understand that the MAC clause provides indemnity in most cases. But some businesses faced disputes with foreign parties where the liability was not clearly indemnified, for example due to alleged lack of effort to minimise the damage.
What excites you most about the future of arbitration expert practice?
The expert witness practice has not been well known in Japan, even among lawyers, and the number of experienced practitioners is still very limited. However, as more companies are involved in arbitrations and international lawsuits, the understanding of the role of experts has been increasing. It is interesting to see such change and the elevation of quality of dispute resolution, especially when economic matters are important.
How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?
I expect that our core practice will continue to be the expert witness work on appraisal and damages matters. We will expand other consultancy spaces related to valuation, IP, and regulatory and contractual compliance.