When we acquire a new client, part of our routine is to get the client to sign an authorisation letter for the handover of records from the previous accountant.
When we lose/sack a client, we always send them a disengagement letter which advises them to appoint a new accountant as quickly as possible, and that we will need written authorisation before we can hand over any confidential information in order to comply with the Data Protection Act.
We hardly ever receive authorisation. They hardly ever appoint a new accountant until the last minute. We seem to get the blame for the delay anyway!
With the last one, because of the 31 Jan deadline, we even offered the new accountant the option of declaring that they would accept responsibility in the event that the client later refutes giving authorisation for the handover, but they wouldn't. They (accountants & client) still blame us for the delay, though!
I'm getting round to my question .... this procedure is causing delays in the handover. Where we don't get authorisation from the client, could we just put something in our response to the new accountant along the lines of .....
'We have not received authorisation for the handover of the records, therefore, we assume you have received permission from the client for handover of confidential records, and you should confidentially destroy the records without examining them unless you accept responsibility under the Data Protection Act".
Would this get us off the hook?