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Client questioning quality of work

Threatening to complain to my accountancy body

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We had a fallout with a client over fees.  Client left and she still owes me a lot of money.  Client is getting his new accountant to check my work so she can try to reduce the fees.  It was a very difficult engagement from the start and there were a few things we could have done better but the errors could not be considered as material

I am just concerned she may complain to my accountancy body over some minor issue and feel very anxious at the moment.  

 

Replies (16)

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By Crouchy
18th Sep 2020 13:37

what sort of errors are we looking at?

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Replying to Crouchy:
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By sanjay100
18th Sep 2020 15:33

Expense that should not have tax deductible on the Corporation Tax Return

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By memyself-eye
18th Sep 2020 13:47

Go on the offensive - sue her for your fees.

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By Justin Bryant
18th Sep 2020 14:03

Your professional body will see this sort of sod client fee complaint try-on thing all the time, so don't worry about it if it's just that.

I once had some bloke trying it on over a £2 (yes, two pounds!) debt! Bluffing of course.

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Oaklea
By Chris.Mann
18th Sep 2020 15:00

"there were a few things we could have done better but the errors could not be considered as material"

Do those doubts provide a platform where you might consider negotiating a realistic discount, with your former client?

Consider your next steps carefully. Litigation and court arrangements were never happy bed fellows.

I'd be tempted to put a price on the "things you could have done better and the errors" and come to a realistic settlement. You're obviously not 100% sure of your position, given what you tell us.

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
18th Sep 2020 15:07

In the context of a dispute that could go legal, don't admit error, certainly not at this stage.

It's surprising how ex-clients suddenly discover things they are unhappy with when they have a bill to pay.

You say the client hasn't made a complaint to your professional body. Don't worry about it then! I agree, press for payment, call the bluff, get your money. You did the work, why shouldn't you get paid?

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Replying to Red Leader:
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By sanjay100
18th Sep 2020 15:39

Yes the work was done and client was happy until she saw the invoice (for additional work) and then all hell broke lose. Moved to new accountants who seem decent but of course want to show themselves in a good light started to question certain elements of Limited Company tax return then she tried to use this to get a reduction in fees saying quality was poor.

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By Paul Crowley
18th Sep 2020 18:40

Has the client made a loss?
If owe some tax it was tax that they owed anyway.
Consider only the interest at HMRC rates against any overdraft at bank rate.
They are probably up on the deal.

Have they paid what they expected to pay? My guess, they paid nothing

Accy bodies do not get involved in fee disputes and encourage court action to resolve

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By sanjay100
18th Sep 2020 21:03

Yes client made a loss. Nope paid only 15% so far

Its just the aggro and time having to spend justifying my work to my accountancy body when it was a very difficult engagement and client as it was very difficult to get information and always happened at the last minute causing us to rush the job when if we had the information two months earlier when we had requested, we could have taken more due care.

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
18th Sep 2020 22:13

In retrospect, a good reason to decline or dump clients who leave everything to the last minute: the situation is a breeding ground for errors.

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By Paul Crowley
18th Sep 2020 19:03

It is not uncommon
Clients you think are solid, are only solid until date of departure.

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By norstar
18th Sep 2020 19:04

I've had something similar before once or twice where incoming accountants have made comments about our work which were ill informed or incorrect. It's usually from non-regulated bods unfortunately and presumably to make themselves look good.

For example, a recent client moved to save a few quid on current year taxes but the advice given by the new lot was going to cost him a ton of SDLT further down the line... Yet the other lot told him that our approach had cost him tax last year which he went ballistic over. They didn't have the background info we had as to his plans and circumstances so were just point scoring and in my opinion, not as knowledgeable as we were.

In these cases I have politely emailed the other firm and asked them to retract the comments made or provide context. In one or two cases I have had cause to tell them I would be pursuing a claim for defamation if they continued.

If you're happy in your position and think your work is fundamentally OK, I would consider copying in the client and contacting the other lot along these lines. Good luck.

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Replying to norstar:
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By sanjay100
20th Sep 2020 22:44

Yes I have been guilty of pointing a few things out to clients about their former accountants work just to flatter and agree to the clients opinion of their previous accountant. Perhaps some comeuppance.

I find the less qualified accountants try to pick things up even though its not important or material which then the client who doesn't really understand starts making a fuss unnecessarily.

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By Calculatorboy
19th Sep 2020 14:47

I doubt your prof body would get involved in minor stuff like this

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By DJsy
21st Sep 2020 16:32

Unlikely to be a major issue with your professional body if it's a minor error, but I would notify insurers of the complaint.

I would normally then offer the client some small discount provided they settle within a week.

If they don't pay then sue the client for the full debt (tell insurers this is what you intend to do).

Don't sue them yourself, pay a debt recovery agent to do it and don't worry about it.

Did your enquiry letter response to the new accountant detail these issues (poor records, unpaid fees), in which case why have they accepted the client...? Or did they not send you an enquiry letter, in which case you have an obligation to ask them why they haven't written to you, and you should speak to your institute to see if you have an obligation to report them.

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Replying to DJsy:
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By sanjay100
23rd Sep 2020 10:29

Many Thanks for the reply. We have yet to provide professional clearance, little uncertain what we can say as per the professional clearance guidance, client is disorganised and records are poor. There is unpaid fees too. I would like to say more and give full barrels but what don't know what is acceptable.

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