16 Collyer Quay, #22-01/02, Income at Raffles
049318, Singapore, Singapore
Michael Peer is ranked among the finest arbitration experts in Singapore, and comes “highly recommended” by peers and clients.
Michael leads Control Risks’ forensic services practice across Asia Pacific. Based in Singapore, he has over 25 years of experience as a forensic accountant. He assists clients with sensitive situations and is recognised in dispute resolution involving commercial and investor state disputes. Michael assists clients in establishing the facts through meticulous documentation review. Michael works closely with clients and lawyers when acting as an expert in matters involving accounting, damage quantification and regulatory compliance.
What do you enjoy most about acting as quantum expert and arbitrator respectively?
As an expert witness I enjoy assisting the tribunal to understand complex issues involving quantum or accounting. So many accounting issues are interlinked so it is important to have a clear overview and understanding of all the issues and different variables within the topics.
In a similar way, as an arbitrator with a diverse background, I bring subject matter knowledge to bear to the case. This is key where the case is heavily quantum based and I can support the other arbitrators in our deliberations.
How has the market developed since you first started practising?
Over the last 25 years most experts have become more professional and experienced. There are still some hired guns who produce white-washes but they quickly become known to the arbitrators and their independence is increasingly being challenged. I am seeing greater desire to settle cases, meaning only the more complex cases tend to proceed to formal dispute resolution procedures, but also clients are seeking more support in finding commercial solutions to disputes.
What advantages accompany involving experts before the main evidentiary hearing? Why would parties and clients choose to pursue this option?
Excluding experts until late in the case runs the risk of not establishing the relevant facts required for the quantum phase of the case. Another benefit of early involvement of quantum experts is a realistic
expectation of what a case is worth, both for the purposes of making an investment into the case, but also to evaluate settlement offers. The chosen legal arguments may also restrict the quantum calculations unnecessarily or may exclude relevant heads of claim so an early discussion is invaluable.
Some practitioners report that conflict of interest rules for consulting experts in arbitration are not tight enough. Do you agree?
The rules are sufficient but errors are made in compliance. Further rules about the number of appointments for a client or the related engagements by others in the same consulting firm would be unduly onerous. In public practice, accountants are very aware of the rules and monitor conflicts closely but I am seeing increasing requests for business intelligence to understand potential conflicts of interest. In my experience, arbitrators will give the weight they deem appropriate to the evidence presented to them.
You have extensive experience in a wide range of industries. What are some of the key factors you take into account when holding yourself out as an expert across industries?
I am merely an expert in the fields of my training and experience being accounting, valuation and regulatory compliance. I work very closely with industry experts so that the technical knowledge they present is integrated into the overall approach to the case. Based on my work history, there are certain sectors I have more experience in than others , such as the energy and technology sectors.
What advice would you give to clients when it comes to international arbitration?
Dispute resolution requires a comprehensive strategy requiring a multitude of disciplines so my advice to clients is to assemble a team that brings different perspectives to the issue and couple that capability with decision making authority to resolve disputes amicably where possible. Bringing legal, accounting, business and finance perspectives together will allow for the development of a robust strategy with creative solutions to sensitive issues.
How are the benefits of big data being harnessed in arbitrations by experts?
Big data is now unavoidable in arbitration cases. There is a growing amount of data collected during the opening phases of a dispute that needs to be considered when preparing a dispute resolution strategy. The use of data analytics, particularly assisted by artificial intelligence or machine learning, is now ubiquitous, not a luxury, so participants to an arbitration need to have a grasp of the tools available, the legal implications of processing the data, and need to be trained so as to understand the outcome of any analysis.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Probably the advice that has really defined me was to remain ethical and maintain a long-term vision. Too often I have seen other experts appease their clients in the short run, which has damaged their integrity. If I feel a client really doesn’t have a case or their claims are unsubstantiated, I tell them. I have been fired for doing so, but I have maintained my integrity which is much more important.