The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street
SE1 9SG, London, England
Peers and clients say:
"He provides work of excellent quality"
"He is very easy to work with"
"Philip is a very experienced expert witness"
Philip Haberman is a senior partner at Haberman Ilett, part of Blackrock Expert Services Group. He has specialised in forensic accounting since 1990, spending 22 years as a partner in Big Four firms before setting up Haberman Ilett in September 2013. He has six times been Who’s Who Legal’s Expert Witness of the Year. Philip has been actively involved in over 300 matters, including commercial disputes, shareholder disputes, investment treaty claims, transaction-related disputes, and disputes arising out of accounting and financial irregularities.
Describe your career to date.
In a word, varied. I spent my early career in an eclectic mix of audit and advisory work, for clients of all shapes and sizes, which turned out to be excellent training for what came later. Then, in 1989, I was offered the opportunity to set up a forensic accounting department at my then firm. The nature of the work, with its focus on understanding complex financial issues and explaining them to non-financial people, suited me perfectly.
What have you learned from having previously started your own firm?
I’ve learned a lot about leadership and the importance of being an optimist without losing sight of realism. I’ve been able to test my personal view that most professionals are so self-motivated that they need encouragement rather than management. And I now have much greater respect for genuine entrepreneurs.
What advice would you give to younger experts who one day hope to be in your position?
Every case is an opportunity to learn something – from your colleagues, counsel, the client, the tribunal and the other side – use that knowledge to help you build your confidence, and develop your own personal style. Then recognise that consulting a colleague is a sign of strength, not of weakness. And, sometimes, just say “no”.
Since you began participating in arbitration proceedings, how would you say the role of the expert witness has developed?
First, the use of experts has expanded. Whereas experts used to be limited to opinions on matters of judgement, they are now frequently used as technical interpreters, often as a means of presenting what might otherwise be a difficult aspect of a case. Secondly, despite a lack of institutional rules dealing with the role of experts, the English approach (where experts formally acknowledge their obligation to the tribunal) seems to have become the template, leading to an expectation that experts will behave reasonably and be able to explain why their views differ from the opposing expert.
Looking back over your career, what has made you proudest?
For a long time, it was providing the expert evidence that resulted in a change in the law (in relation to the discount rate used for personal injury damages). But now, I’m most proud of my partners.