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Accountant requested docs w/o my permission

Can my accountant request invoices from businesses I use without my permi

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I am asking some advice on the legalities of my accountant phoning around all my business contacts asking for invoices and other information spanning 4 years. I have given her all my invoices etc and as she hasn't done any work I've asked her to submit all my files in order than I can employ a new accountant. On the strength of this conversation she has been phoning all my business contacts and apparently been very nasty if they refuse to sent her the required information she seeks. Can she legally request this information without my consent? She is not a chartered accountant as she previously told me she was.  
Thank you in advance as I do not know where to seek this information. 
 

Replies (22)

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By lesley.barnes
03rd Jun 2021 10:52

As per your previous post about this accountant you need legal advice not accountancy advice.

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By 356B
03rd Jun 2021 10:56

It's not illegal for her to ask for this info, but it would fall foul of data protection if they supplied it. The question is "WHY?" is she doing this? If you have removed your instructions, she has no right to act on your behalf.

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By tom123
03rd Jun 2021 10:58

Why would someone want copies of your trade invoices?

Story doesn't make sense.

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By David Ex
03rd Jun 2021 11:02

Jennyb1200 wrote:

I am asking some advice on the legalities ....

As you have identified, and others have commented, what you have there is a legal matter.

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
03rd Jun 2021 11:17

I would guess that maybe she is trying to finish your accounts re these years and she has, despite your comment, already done some work (How can you even know what work she has done?), the problem possibly being the records you provided to her are not complete and she has missing invoices she needs.

"I have given her all my invoices etc and as she hasn't done any work I've asked her to submit all my files in order than I can employ a new accountant. "

I once years ago worked reconstructing missing records for a chain of wine merchants, we started from bank payments re who had been paid, supplier statements where we had them and then requested all the missing invoices to reconstruct the ledgers, it was time consuming, untidy and soul destroying.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
03rd Jun 2021 11:20

We've already covered in a previous thread how your accountant, in order to hold herself out as such, must be supervised by somebody for money laundering purposes. At the bottom end of that pile is supervision by HMRC - which I suppose that gives you somebody to complain to. Even if only about the DPA aspects of her behaviour.

Anyone holding themselves out as an accountant, or for that matter a bookkeeper, without such supervision would be seriously up to their neck in criminal charges.

There! That's the first stick you might use to beat her with. So did you ascertain just who her supervising body is?

Second stick: Write to this accountant signed delivery, and after Royal Mail confirm your letter's delivery go belt and braces by also sending a pdf copy of that latter by email. Your letter(s) should come from yourself, and from each of your business partners / co-directors, requesting under a subject access request copies of each and every piece of information held in a personal capacity in respect of each and every one of you. (So that you are clear on this, only individuals are able to request information under a SAR - not limited companies or partnerships.)

All this will be a dreadful nuisance to your accountant; all the more so, potentially, if as you relate she's been contacting third parties. So you might give her an "out" by stating that, as an alternative to her fulfilling your SAR(s), she might simply return all of your records - personal, company, and partnership - instead.

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By Paul Crowley
03rd Jun 2021 11:22

She has lost your records and does not want to own up
Get the new accountant on board and start again

The website should contain details of the PII insurance policy for old firm

New accountant needs to be in a properly regulated firm. Check with their regulator.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
03rd Jun 2021 11:55

Cue outrage from QBEs who are not "regulated" at all.

btw, where is the requirement to put PII details on your website?

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By Paul Crowley
03rd Jun 2021 12:20

btw, where is the requirement to put PII details on your website?

ICAEW recommend
Clients must be able to find it out without needing to ask

If not on website, then on letter of engagement per ICAEW expectations
It will be checked on an ICAEW visit

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By JazzySasha
03rd Jun 2021 13:57

Not an ICAEW recommendation at all, it's required by legislation - The Provision of Services Act.

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Replying to JazzySasha:
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By Paul Crowley
03rd Jun 2021 16:13

Agree.
More to provision of services stuff than just PII and insurance.
Similarly needs to be on website. I also have it in a frame near entrance
Mine might be out of date as it refers to Regulations 2009, the pre Brexit version.

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Replying to JazzySasha:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
07th Jun 2021 16:38

The Provision of Services Regulations 2009 8(1)(n):
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2009/9780111486276/regulation/8

Seems that para (h) needs updating:

"where the provider is carrying on a regulated profession, any professional body or similar institution with which the provider is registered, the professional title and the EEA state in which that title has been granted;"

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By Paul Crowley
03rd Jun 2021 12:28

Cue outrage from QBEs who are not "regulated" at all.

She got a plank of an accountant first time around.

Better off getting an organised accountant with PII the second time.
Quicker to say regulated than to say 'do due diligence' as the term would need detailed explanation.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
03rd Jun 2021 12:26

Accountant's lost the records - I hadn't thought of that!

OP, if Paul's right and she's lost your records then go google "reporting a data breach" and report your suspicions accordingly to the Information Commissioner's Office. (Regardless of whether or not your accountant is registered with them - she ought to be).

Which supervising body, if any, is your accountant with? Did you find out?

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By New To Accountancy
03rd Jun 2021 13:41

I've done this too; the client was ever so grateful that I took the time to help with the VAT return by getting invoices. The suppliers would not provide the information without your consent though if they have, it's then you need to speak to.
Clients give me invoices that do not match the bank, and sometimes (if the client is a PITA), it has been easier to call the suppliers myself.
There is no other reason I'd do this; I've no interest otherwise.

Did she charge you for this? This is your job, really, or the person you employ to do so.

Perhaps she wasn't able to do the work because she had incomplete records?

She sounds like me actually, I'm not chartered either.

Edit: the tasks sound like something I'd do to help, is what sounds like me - I do not mean acting without permission!

After reading other posts from Paul, I never even thought of the possibility of losing the documents either.

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Replying to New To Accountancy:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
03rd Jun 2021 22:40

Maybe she's just old school, and doing a thorough job. Way back in auditing-compulsory days we'd routinely write to debtors to verify ledger balances.

Odd that back then there were some barriers to being an entrepreneur / yuppy / whatever-you-call-it - ie that you needed to stump up an annual audit fee; or effectively face closure. No wonder everyone's queuing up to get into Britain! £100 for a start-up? That'll do nicely!

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By New To Accountancy
03rd Jun 2021 23:31

My initial impression of the accountant was of her being thorough and the confusion was the objection from the OP, client's would usually welcome their accountant to do the 'leg work'.

Of course it may not be the case here especially if invoices are lost (it's the going back 4 years that doesn't sit right).

Old school is 'proper' accounting I feel. True credits to the profession.

Edit: Sorry, I mean, debits to the profession :)

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Paul Crowley
04th Jun 2021 02:19

Back then ALL companies were audited.
Results of debtors circularisation were usually disappointing. Checking subsequent bankings seemed more productive to me.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Truthsayer
04th Jun 2021 09:06

Yes, debtors circularisation was a waste of time. They usually didn't respond, or 'confirmed' the client's figure when you knew it was wrong, as the debtor had no purchase ledger in the first place, and was just looking at their supplier statement! When they had a different figure, there was usually no proper explanation included. Debtors circularisation ranks alongside statutory register audits and bank letters as the most futile pieces of auditing I used to be made to do back in the eighties.

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Replying to Truthsayer:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
04th Jun 2021 11:22

I used to enjoy debtor sampling and the joys of applying monetary unit sampling to the list, in effect the national lottery of the 80s, "it could be you but there is more chance of it being you the more we think you owe."

Our Debtor Circs tended to actually get responses but then we only used them with bigger clients who themselves tended to have larger debtors who themselves generally had purchase ledger departments. (Who remembers all those clients whose staff prepared monthly purchase ledger recs against statements)

The last letters we received as someone's debtors were probably back in the late 90s but we carry few creditors in our books as I am a fast payer so we would have had less chance of being selected in the first place

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
04th Jun 2021 10:44

Ours was not to reason why,
Ours was just to tick and pry!

I recall one tick and bash job where, in response to just such a circularisation, the debtor company argued successfully that it owed just a few thousand pounds; whereas our client's sales ledger had that account owing £100k plus. Which rather torpedoed the £100k net profit in the draft accounts.

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By paulwakefield1
04th Jun 2021 09:10

"....bank letters as the most futile pieces of auditing ...."

I used to think that until a bank reply for a (rapidly ex) client revealed a substantial bank account not in the accounting records. Client's quote "You weren't meant to know about that".

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