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Top 10 ways MKD International Inc. helps law firms

By Peter Small, Contributor

A good private investigation firm can provide invaluable assistance to litigators in a variety of ways, whether it is interviewing witnesses, conducting surveillance, or detecting fraud, says Toronto-area private detective Jim Downs.

“The types of services we provide depend on the client’s needs,” says Downs, co-founder and managing director of MKD International Inc., a Vaughan, Ont.-based private investigations firm.

They also vary with the kind of law practice, whether it is personal injury, corporate, employment or criminal law,” he tells

Here are 10 top ways MKD International Inc. helps law firms serve the interests of their clients:

Taking statements from witnesses

The firm's investigators are experienced former police detectives who know how to properly interview witnesses, and record their statements in a written and electronic form, often as affidavits in criminal or civil matters. They ensure the statements are informative, accurate, and untainted by bias or the appearance of having been elicited through inducements, Downs says.

Mobile surveillance

MKD’s investigators conduct surveillance on a variety of individuals, whether they are personal injury claimants or parties in other disputes. Its team members are skilled in observing and documenting the movements of their subjects without being detected, he says.

“The people we use for surveillance also executed these duties with various police intelligence groups,” Downs says. Through years of experience, they have learned to read their subjects and anticipate their next move. “It’s a combination of art and science,” he says.

Locating people

The firm is often called upon to track down potential witnesses or other parties to a legal proceeding, whether they are intentionally avoiding detection or not.

Serving court documents

Sometimes law firms want to serve documents on parties who are hard to find and may be evading service. MKD’s investigators combine their tracking, surveillance, and timing skills to locate and serve these people, whether outside their home, business, or on the street.

Employment law services

The company investigates employment issues such as worker’s compensation claims, or alleged on-the-job harassment.

“We cover all the bases to see whether there is any merit to the claim,” Downs says, adding that investigators often interview witnesses, and sometimes the complainant.

Taking care not to insert their opinion into the process, they gather pertinent information so an adjudicator, judge, or other referee can make a determination, he says.

“We just gather the information and someone else will have to weigh it,” Downs says.

Computer forensics

The firm works with other companies with expertise in this highly technical, and continuously evolving area.

Electronic countermeasures

MKD calls on its stable of allied experts to assist legal firms with electronic countermeasures, such as sweeping offices to detect listening devices.

Fraud investigation and forensics

Its investigative team can help detect and analyze fraud — whether digital or paper-based. Where forensic auditing expertise is needed, the firm calls upon skilled associates in accounting firms.

“You don’t go to your plumber to get your car fixed. You go to the people who have the expertise,” he says. “We work with a group that has that skill set.”

Accident investigations

MKD creates motor vehicle accident reconstructions, sometimes bringing in outside professionals to provide technical opinions that stand up in court, Downs says.

Reviewing completed police investigations

On occasion, the company's investigators are asked by legal firms to examine police investigations.

The company's investigators always wait until police have completed their work before beginning their review. They go over the evidence, and may interview potential witnesses who police have missed or chose not to contact, he says.

“Were there any biases? Do we see things in the notes that don’t look right? We evaluate that. We bring it to the attention of the client and their lawyer,” Downs says. “It’s either going to confirm what the original evidence showed or maybe it will find something that was overlooked.”

The quality of MKD's work is informed by years of experience gained by its investigators who worked in the private sector and various constabularies, including the Toronto, York Regional and Ontario Provincial Police, he says.

“It’s a big step up having that level of professionalism, and experience behind you,” Downs says.

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