Pinsents appoints first forensic accountant for new department

Pinsent Curtis has hired its first-ever forensic accountant from long-term client Sarnatech BNL, following the lead of Clifford Chance.

Tony Chapman is joining the national firm’s Leeds office in September.

His first job will be to recruit a forensic accounting team to work under him and alongside the litigation practice. The group will be based in Leeds although it eventually intends to expand to include the Birmingham office as well.

Pinsents decided to recruit a forensic accountant earlier this year in a bid to enable the litigation department to provide a faster and fuller analysis at the dispute resolution stage.

The forensic department will initially be run as a support service for the litigation group. But it will eventually be part of a one-stop shop for litigation clients.

Chartered accountant Chapman joined manufacturer Sarnatech BNL in 1997 and became finance director. The company is owned by Swiss giant Sarna Holdings and has offices across Europe, Asia and the US.

Chapman first heard about the Pinsents role after Leeds managing partner and head of litigation Nigel Kissack discussed the possibility of having an in-house forensic accounting team with him.

He says: “Pinsents are our main corporate lawyers, undertaking mostly corporate work and any litigation work that we have to place.

“Knowing my background Nigel floated the idea of an in-house forensic accountant team. I thought it was a great idea and that I would want to do it.”

As Law Society rules prevent him from taking equity in the firm, Chapman will join as director of accounting services at the level of a salaried partner.

The move follows Clifford Chance, which claimed to be the first magic circle firm to appoint a forensic accountant earlier this year when it recruited Stephen Lewis from PricewaterhouseCoopers (The Lawyer, 31 January).

Prior to joining Sarnatech BNL, Chapman worked for Ernst & Young where he qualified in 1989.

Although he specialised in corporate finance at the big five accountant, Chapman spent a period on secondment to the West Yorkshire Police Fraud Squad setting up its in-house forensic accounting department.