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Previous accountant withholding primary records

Hi - thank you in advance for all advice.

I have two clients who have moved on from previous accountants and have not been able to get primary records back from them - ie bank statements, invoices, receipts, sales records etc.

In both cases, I highly suspect but cannot be certain that neither accountant was a member of a professional body.  In one case the accountant has refused to pass back records until fees are settled.  The client disputes the fees (naively agreed without written contract) and also suspects that the accountant has not maintained the bookkeeping as agreed.  

My understanding is that the accountant can withhold the bookkeeping as this relates to the work he was paid to undertake but cannot withhold the primary records.

Can anyone confirm this?  

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By Jimess
06th Dec 2012 14:24

That is my understanding

I had a similar situation some time ago and was advised that professional lien cannot be used over books and records that actually belong to the client.  A letter from the client's solicitor to the previous accountant helped in my case.  

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06th Dec 2012 16:00

Agree with Jimess

Jimess wrote:

I had a similar situation some time ago and was advised that professional lien cannot be used over books and records that actually belong to the client.  A letter from the client's solicitor to the previous accountant helped in my case.  

A solicitor's letter worked for me too.

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06th Dec 2012 20:37

I've felt the need to use professional lien twice....

....in both instances the District Judges respected my claim, refusing to order me to hand back the client records. The last instance was 4 1/2 years ago.

Be very wary of client's claims about their previous accountants and be cautious in communicating to anyone about them. 

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