The High Court has rebuked an expert witness who had ‘no persuasive answer to a number of key questions’, in an unsuccessful claim against a high-profile fashion stylist.
In Mark Simon Reynolds v Caroline Stanbury, the High Court found that the applicant’s expert witness – a forensic accountant, valuation and arbitration expert with 20 years of experience – ‘did not fare well in the witness box’.
‘His report did not stand up to close scrutiny and he had no persuasive answer to a number of key questions put to him in cross-examination,’ Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Barber said.
‘There were also points in his oral testimony at which he failed to comply with his overriding duty to assist the court. One of his responses in cross examination was so astonishing that he had to be reminded by the court that he was giving evidence under oath and that the court process was “not a game”. He twice apologised to the court for his answer after that intervention,’ she added.
The respondent, Caroline Stanbury, is a fashion stylist for high net worth individuals. The case in question concerned an application brought under the Insolvency Act 1986 by the liquidator of CSB 123 Ltd, of which Stanbury was director.
The applicant claimed that Stanbury transferred the business’ assets for no consideration to connected parties when her business dealings ran into trouble. He argued this was in breach of her duties and an unlawful distribution of capital. Stanbury maintained that the application was misconceived and denied any wrongdoing.
At the heart of the applicant's case was that CSB 123 Ltd had a value of £1.4m. However, the court found the expert witness was an ‘unimpressive, results-driven piece of work’ and his attempts to defend it in oral testimony were ‘entirely unpersuasive’.
Barber J concluded that Stanbury had acted ‘reasonably, responsibly and with the greatest integrity’ as director of the company.
‘She assiduously sought and relied upon the advice and assistance of experienced lawyers and accountants at all material times. It is most regrettable that she and her family have been put through the stress of these proceedings.’