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Accountant's Terms & Conditions

Unreasonable Previous Accountant

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I have recently been approached by a new client and written to previous agent (No response). Client has contacted him and the following is a summary: Accountant submitted self assessment return for 2017/18 without sending to client for review and without approval(only client's word for this). Client has not received a LoE nor any other written T&Cs. He has now been told that because he agreed to pay by monthly standing order and has made 3 months of payments that he is tied in to a contract for two years and must pay up the balance (21 mths)to leave. This is their company policy whether contracts are signed or not. He has paid for all services to date, owes them nothing. I don't expect to get a response but would question the legal position and do I contact HMRC for copies of return. 

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01st May 2019 17:04

Well, it's blocks, isn't it ?

The snag is you want some information to get on with your own work.

How long's a piece of string ? How far do you (or, rather, does the client) want to take it down the line ?
You could get a solicitor to write a letter but does the cost justify the outcome ?

Let me guess - this accountant isn't a member of an organisation to which you can complain ......

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01st May 2019 18:22

Phone the previous agent. I dare you. You never know, some good might come of it. If not it's wasted less of your time than it took to write your post.

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02nd May 2019 08:57

If its personal tax, then its consumer law, and clearly an unfair contract if the consumer hasn't even seen it.

Talk about fugging desperate to keep clients who hate them!

if your client can be arsed they might like to report the cowboys to the local trading standards if such people still exist. I assume the accountants are not members of a professional body acting in that manner.

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02nd May 2019 09:09

they couldn't possibly be a member of a professional body acting like that.....!

Your options:

1) spend hours doing letters/making phone calls/ taking actions, for which you will neither be thanked or paid by the client - but perhaps score a moral victory over the previous agent.
2) Take a pragmatic view to the information required treating in the most appropriate way.

The fee thing is not your fight....the client can choose not to pay and assuming they haven't signed any such agreement (whether actual or implied) then they will not have to worry about anything.

Principles are great but don't pay the bills.

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By Maslins
02nd May 2019 09:19

My only possible slight defence of the accountant, especially if this was a sole trader, is perhaps doing the SA return is the lion's share of the work for the year. In that case getting 3 monthly payments would be a bit harsh. However, generally I agree it seems ridiculous, especially the 2 year bit.

I wouldn't waste your/the client's time trying to formally complain. However the client should at least consider writing a (factual) online review. May encourage the firm to change their ways and/or save other potential clients from a similar misfortune.

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03rd May 2019 10:12

It sounds like you could spend far more time and effort on dealing with the history than this client is worth.

I suggest that you walk away.

If the client really hasn't received any T&C or notification of the alleged contract, it is difficult to see how a 2-year term could be enforced. It is a straightforward defence to say that there is no contract.

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By JD
06th May 2019 19:15

You could consider making a request for a copy personal information, copy returns etc held under data protection. At least I assume you still can under the new gdpr world.

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