A brief history of forensic accounting

Forensic accounting is a term that has only been formally defined since the 1930s, but its roots can be traced back much further than that. From the Ancient Egyptians to the first referenced case in Scotland, here is a brief look into the history of forensic accounting and its modern-day counterpart.

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What is forensic accounting?

Forensic accounting is a practice that deals with disputes and litigations. The practice utilises accounting techniques, auditing and investigative skills to assist financial, matrimonial or criminal disputes. A forensic accountant is often appointed to give independent financial evidence during a trial. 

Where did it all begin?

The history of forensic accounting is said to date back hundreds of years, but was formally defined in the 1930s by Frank Wilson, after he worked on a financial case against American gangster and businessman Al Capone. However, this highly complex accountancy skill might have been around for much longer than its formal definition. In fact, it’s thought that forensic accounting practices have even been around since the time of ancient Egyptians.

During Ancient Egypt, accountants were hired to account for the Pharaoh’s assets and experts believe that ancient Egyptian methods of accounting have many parallels with today’s modern-day forensic accounting. To find out more about how accounting has changed over the years, read this guide. 

Modern-day forensic accounting

Fast forward to 1824, modern-day forensic accounting was first referenced in an accountant’s advertising circular in Glasgow. The concept of forensic accounting quickly spread across the UK and over to the USA until its formal definition in the 1930s. To this day, similar practices are still used in forensic accounting cases all over the world. 

Modern forensic accounting practices can cover many different cases, from business valuations and commercial disputes to criminal confiscation and forensic insolvency.

To learn more about how our expert team implements forensic accounting practices today, read our forensic accountancy services guide here

Contact our forensic accountants in Manchester and London

Our forensic accounting team, based in Manchester and London, has over 35 years of experience working with legal professionals all over the UK. Our forensic accountants are typically instructed by lawyers and legal teams on both civil and criminal cases. 

If you’re a legal professional seeking to appoint an experienced, independent forensic accountant, contact our forensic accounting team today. 

Our head of accounting, Stephen Verber, has been instructed in more than 200 cases as an expert witness. Stephen is experienced in producing independent expert reports and acting as a single joint expert in a range of cases, from fraud and crime to matrimonial and contractual disputes.

Learn more information about the accounting services we provide, from tax advice to corporate finance. Get in touch with a member of our team today, and we’ll be happy to assist you with any query you may have. 

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