Why are we still sending unencrypted emails?

Who is stealing your sensitive details?

Much of my work involves multi £million dispute resolution where clients expect communications to remain confidential or privileged. But clients still send me highly sensitive business information and bank account details in unencrypted emails. 

A reminder of the dangers came from a rather surprising source today. One of my clients received a letter from HM Revenue & Customs where they set out the risks associated with sending information to them in emails. In their letter HMRC warned the client that using unencrypted emails could lead to the following risks:

  • Confidentiality and privacy – there’s a risk that emails set over the internet may be intercepted
  • Confirming your identity – It’s crucial that communications are with established contacts at their correct email addresses
  • They warn there is no guarantee that any email received over an insecure network, like the internet, has not been altered during transit
  • Attachments could contain a virus or malicious code.

The advice went on to suggest either “desensitising” information in emails or using encrypted emails. 

The current global pandemic will continue to provide plenty of opportunities for fraud and opportunism. For example, there has been a substantial increase in phishing emails asking for either passwords, or inviting us to open attachments or to click on links.  

Perhaps fraudsters recognise that as most of us are currently working from home on personal computers rather than office machines. This means we are operating outside corporate secure systems and procedures that we would have in the office.

Please now remind yourself and colleagues of the risks of doing so. I encourage all my clients to avoid including sensitive information in unencrypted emails, to password protect documents and memory sticks they send me and not to include bank account details in unencrypted emails.

While on this subject, we also need to check the urls of the sites we browse. Google say there are currently over 2 million phishing websites. Google’s Transparent Report contains up-to-date statistics and a tool for checking whether a site is safe (http://tiny.cc/safe-browsing).

In summary, we need to check the url of sites we visit, only open emails from trusted sources, encrypt sensitive emails, documents and memory sticks, use password managers and a VPN to access office files when working remotely.

What precautions do your organisations recommend and do you use encrypted emails for sensitive communications? Please share your own experiences in the comments box below or in an email to me. I am interested to hear your experience.

Keep Safe everyone,

Charles Lazarevic

Changes to Statement of Truth for CPR expert witnesses

New wording for Expert Witness’s Statement of Truth

Charles Lazarevic - forensic accountant

Charles Lazarevic – Changes to CPR

A reminder to all solicitors that are currently instructing expert witnesses under CPR that from today PD35, paragraph 3.3 requires experts to include the following additional sentence in their Statement of Truth:

“I understand that proceedings for contempt of court may be brought against anyone who makes, or causes to be made, a false statement in a document verified by a statement of truth without an honest belief in its truth.”

The new wording reflects the seriousness with which courts view any false statements contained in a written report and follows the Court of Appeal’s guidance on dealing with such situations (not just for expert witnesses) following the decision in Liverpool Victoria Insurance Co.Ltd v Zafar [2019]EWCA Civ 392 to give the expert a suspended sentence.  Dr Zafar had included information in his report at the request of his instructing solicitors that directly contradicted his actual findings on examination of the claimant and included an opinion on prognosis suggested by the solicitor.

The Court of Appeal decision discusses the appropriate sentence at some length and concludes that a prison term of no less than 12 months would have been appropriate in such situations and that it should be served immediately.

Presumably this additional wording will be introduced for Family Court or Criminal Court cases in due course.

This is a timely reminder to those that need forensic accountancy evidence that my firm chose “Vero Consulting” for its title to emphasise that truth forms the foundation for all our work.  If you would like to discuss the implications of this change to CPR, please let me know.

Charles Lazarevic

1 October 2020

Vero Consulting’s Russian speakers for forensic accounting and expert witness assignments

Business valuations for Russian clients

Business valuations in Russia

For our Russian clients we have created a new web page in Russian with details of some of the many expert witness reports and cross examination cases. These have included cases heard at arbitrations or courts in the UK and Cyprus for Russian companies and individuals. 

We are a nimble and conflict free boutique firm of highly experienced forensic accountants.  Our team can conduct assignments in any of nine European languages.

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Checklist for Concurrent Expert Evidence

Expert Witness Concurrent Expert Evidence
Expert’s giving concurrent expert evidence

Assisting lawyers: preparing expert witnesses to give concurrent expert evidence

I have prepared a checklist for lawyers to consider when instructing experts to give concurrent expert evidence (commonly called “hot tubbing”) in court or at an arbitration. This guidance is based on my experience of giving concurrent expert evidence in arbitrations and in court.

Checklist:

• Always remember – the expert witness’s overriding duty is to assist the court/tribunal with their expertise.

• Draft the expert report in the knowledge that the judge/arbitrator may invite the expert with the apparently superior knowledge or more controversial position to take the lead in presenting the expert evidence.

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Termination of agency – calculating the compensation

Challenges valuing termination of agency

Termination of Agency

Valuation of Commercial Agencies for Regulation 17

In this blog I explore the challenges when valuing the termination of agency for compensation using a recent reported case to illustrates these difficulties. Compensation is payable by a principal to a commercial agent by Regulation 17 (2) of the Commercial Agents (Council Directive) Regulations 1993 (“the Regulations”).

The Regulations define a commercial agent as a “self employed intermediary who has continuing authority to negotiate the sale or purchase of goods on behalf of their principal or to negotiate and conclude such transactions on behalf of and in the name of that principal”. 

In this blog I use the Software Incubator case, for which I wrote expert reports and provided oral evidence in court, to illustrates some of the difficulties in estimating the profitability of the agency before assessing the compensation due. Read More

Compensation for Commercial Agents – new edition

Commercial Agency Agreements: Law and Practice

I am pleased to announce that Bloomsbury Professional has just published the fifth edition of Commercial Agency Agreements: Law and Practice.  I wrote the chapter on the valuation of commercial agents compensation for this edition as well as for the earlier third and fourth editions.

The book examines the standard commercial agency agreement where an agent is self-employed and paid a commission on sales he or she generates for the principal as it is those agents that fall within the UK Regulations.

New cases since the last edition four years ago

As expected, the fifth edition has been updated to include several new cases since the previous edition over four years ago. 

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