These terms and conditions set out the general terms under which we undertake our business. The specific conditions relating to particular assignments will be covered in a separate letter of engagement.
2. Applicable law
Our engagement letter, the schedule of services and our standard terms and conditions of business are governed by, and should be construed in accordance with, the law and practice of England and Wales. Each party agrees that the Courts of England and Wales will have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any claim, dispute or difference concerning this engagement letter and any matter arising from it. Each party irrevocably waives any right to object to any action being brought in those Courts, to claim that the action has been brought in an inappropriate forum, or to claim that those Courts do not have jurisdiction.
3. Professional body
Finch Tax and Accountancy Services Limited are registered with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants as chartered certified accountants and can be found on the register of members at http://members.accaglobal.com/en/find-an-accountant.
4. Probate Services
The reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate is undertaken by our sister company Finch Probate Limited.
Finch Probate Limited are authorised and regulated as a CILEX-ACCA Probate Entity by CILEx Regulation.
Rhoda Cooper, Director of Finch Tax and Accountancy Services Limited and Finch Probate Limited is a CILEX Practitioner (ACCA Probate) authorised to conduct probate work and independently regulated by CILEx Regulation.
5. Client identification and verification
As with other professional services firms, we are required to identify and verify our clients for the purposes of the UK anti-money laundering legislation. Save in exceptional circumstances we cannot start work until this requirement has been met. We may request from you, and retain, such information and documentation as we require for these purposes and/or make searches of appropriate databases including ID verification software.
6. Client monies
We may, from time to time, hold money on your behalf. Such money will be held in trust in a client bank account, which is segregated from the firm's funds. The account will be operated, and all funds dealt with, in accordance with the Clients' Monies Rules of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. These rules can be found on the ACCA website at http://www.accaglobal.com/en.html.
If the total sum of money held on your behalf is enough to give rise to a significant amount of interest or is likely to do so, then we will put the money in a designated interest-bearing client bank account and pay the interest to you. Subject to any tax legislation, interest will be paid gross.
We will return monies held on your behalf promptly as soon as there is no longer any reason to retain those funds. If any funds remain in our client account that are unclaimed and the client to which they relate has remained untraced for five years or we as a firm cease to practise then we may pay those monies to a registered charity.
Fees paid by you in advance for professional work to be performed and clearly identifiable as such shall not be regarded as clients' monies.
7. Commissions or other benefits
In some circumstances we may commissions and/or other benefits for introductions to other professionals or in respect of transactions that we arrange for you. Where this happens, we will notify you in writing of the amount and terms of payment and receipt of any such commissions or benefits. The fees you would otherwise pay will not be reduced by the amount of commission retained.
8. Electronic and other communication
As instructed, we will communicate with you and with any third parties you instruct us to as set out in our covering letter and privacy notice via email or by other electronic means. The recipient is responsible for virus-checking emails and any attachments.
With electronic communication there is a risk of non-receipt, delayed receipt, inadvertent
misdirection or interception by third parties. We use virus-scanning software to reduce the risk of viruses and similar damaging items being transmitted through emails or electronic storage devices. However, electronic communication is not totally secure and we cannot be held responsible for damage or loss caused by viruses nor for communications which are corrupted or altered after despatch. Nor can we accept any liability for problems or accidental errors relating to this means of communication especially in relation to commercially sensitive material. These are risks you must accept in return for greater efficiency and lower costs. If you do not wish to accept these risks please let us know and we will communicate by hard copy, other than where electronic submission is mandatory.
Any communication by us with you sent through the post system is deemed to arrive at your postal address two working days after the day that the document was sent.
When accessing information held electronically by HMRC, we may have access to more information than we need and will only access records reasonably required to carry out the contract.
You are required to keep us up to date with accurate contact details at all times. This is important to ensure that communications and papers are not sent to the incorrect address.
Communication between us is confidential. We shall take all reasonable steps not to disclose your information except where we are required to and as set out in our privacy notice. Unless we are authorised by you to disclose information on your behalf, this undertaking will apply during and after this engagement.
We may, on occasions, subcontract work on your affairs to other tax or accounting professionals. The subcontractors will be bound by our client confidentiality and security terms.
10. Conflicts of interest
If there is a conflict of interest in our relationship with you and another client that is capable of being addressed successfully by the adoption of suitable safeguards to protect your interests, then we will adopt those safeguards.
Where conflicts are identified that cannot be managed in a way that protects your interests then we regret that we will be unable to provide further services. If this arises, we will inform you promptly. We reserve the right to act for other clients whose interests are not the same as or are adverse to yours, subject, of course, to the obligations and confidentiality referred to above.
11. Consumer credit
If, during the provision of professional services to you, you need advice or services on areas from us that fall within Consumer Credit activity, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as we are not authorised to undertake this activity.
12. Data Protection
We confirm that we will comply with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when processing personal data about you and your family.
• obtaining, recording or holding personal data; or
• carrying out any operation or set of operations on personal data, including collecting and storage, organising, adapting, altering, using, disclosure (by any means) or removing (by any means) from the records manual and digital.
The information we obtain, process, use and disclose will be necessary for:
• the performance of the contract
• to comply with our legal and regulatory compliance and crime prevention
• contacting you with details of other services where you have consented to us doing so
• other legitimate interests relating to protection against potential claims and disciplinary action against us.
This includes, but is not limited to, purposes such as updating and enhancing our client records, analysis for management purposes and statutory returns.
In regard to our professional obligations we are a member firm of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Under the ethical and regulatory rules of ACCA I am required to allow access to client files and records for the purpose of maintaining our membership of this body.
Further details on the processing of data are contained in our privacy notice, which should be read alongside these terms and conditions.
Should we resign or be requested to resign we will normally issue a disengagement letter to ensure that our respective responsibilities are clear.
Should we have no contact with you for a period of 12 months or more we may issue to your last known address a disengagement letter and thereafter cease to act.
We reserve the right following termination for any reason to destroy any of your documents that we have not been able to return to you after a period of six months unless other laws or regulations require otherwise.
14. Fees and payment terms
Our fees may depend not only upon the time spent on your affairs but also on the level of skill and responsibility, and the importance and value of the advice that we provide, as well as the level of risk.
If we provide you with an estimate of our fees for any specific work, then the estimate will not be contractually binding unless we explicitly state that that will be the case.
Where requested, we may indicate a fixed fee for the provision of specific services or an indicative range of fees for a particular assignment. It is not our practice to identify fixed fees for more than a year ahead as such fee quotes need to be reviewed in the light of events. If it becomes apparent to us, due to unforeseen circumstances, that a fee quote is inadequate, we reserve the right to notify you of a revised figure or range and to seek your agreement thereto.
In some cases, you may be entitled to assistance with your professional fees, particularly in relation to any investigation into your tax affairs by HMRC. Assistance may be provided through insurance policies you hold or via membership of a professional or trade body. Other than where such insurance was arranged through us you will need to advise us of any such insurance cover that you have. You will remain liable for our fees regardless of whether all or part are liable to be paid by your insurers.
We will bill on the completion of a piece of work and our invoices are due for payment on presentation. Our fees are exclusive of VAT which will be added where it is chargeable. Any disbursements we incur on your behalf and expenses incurred in the course of carrying out our work for you will be added to our invoices where appropriate.
Unless otherwise agreed to the contrary our fees do not include the costs of any third party, counsel or other professional fees.
It is our normal practice to ask clients to pay by monthly direct debit and to periodically adjust the monthly payment by reference to actual billings.
If you do not accept that an invoiced fee is fair and reasonable you must notify us within 21 days of receipt, failing which you will be deemed to have accepted that payment is due.
On termination of the engagement you may appoint a new adviser. Where a new adviser requests professional clearance and handover information we reserve the right to charge you a reasonable fee for the provision of handover information.
We will only assist with implementation of our advice if specifically instructed and agreed in writing.
16. Intellectual property rights
We will retain all copyright in any document prepared by us during the course of carrying out the engagement save where the law specifically provides otherwise.
If any provision of this engagement letter, schedules of services or standard terms and conditions is held to be void, then that provision will be deemed not to form part of this contract and the remainder of this agreement shall be interpreted as if such provision had never been inserted.
In the event of any conflict between these terms of business and the engagement letter or appendices, the relevant provision in the engagement letter or schedules will take precedence.
18. Investment services
Investment business is regulated under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and the Financial Services Act 2012.
If, during the provision of professional services to you, you need advice on investments, including insurances, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority or licensed by a Designated Professional Body as we are not authorised to give such advice.
In so far as permitted to do so by law or professional guidelines, we reserve the right to exercise a lien over all funds, documents and records in our possession relating to all engagements for you until all outstanding fees and disbursements are paid in full.
20. Limitation of liability
We will provide our services with reasonable care and skill. Our liability to you is limited to losses, damages, costs and expenses caused by our negligence or wilful default.
Exclusion of liability for loss caused by others
We will not be liable if such losses, penalties, surcharges, interest or additional tax liabilities are due to the acts or omissions of any other person or due to the provision to us of incomplete, misleading or false information or if they are due to a failure to act on our advice or a failure to provide us with relevant information.
In particular, where we refer you to another firm whom you engage with directly, we accept no responsibility in relation to their work and will not be liable for any loss caused by them.
Exclusion of liability in relation to circumstances beyond our control
We will not be liable to you for any delay or failure to perform our obligations under this engagement letter if the delay or failure is caused by circumstances outside our reasonable control.
Exclusion of liability relating to non-disclosure or misrepresentation
We will not be responsible or liable for any loss, damage or expense incurred or sustained if information material to the service we are providing is withheld or concealed from us or misrepresented to us.
This exclusion shall not apply where such misrepresentation, withholding or concealment is or should (in carrying out the procedures which we have agreed to perform with reasonable care and skill) have been evident to us without further enquiry beyond that which it would have been reasonable for us to have carried out in the circumstances.
Indemnity for unauthorised disclosure
You agree to indemnify us and our agents in respect of any claim (including any claim for negligence) arising out of any unauthorised disclosure by you or by any person for whom you are responsible of our advice and opinions, whether in writing or otherwise. This indemnity will extend to the cost of defending any such claim, including payment at our usual rates for the time that we spend in defending it.
Limitation of aggregate liability
Where the engagement letter specifies an aggregate limit of liability, then that sum shall be the maximum aggregate liability of this company, its directors, agents and employees to all persons to whom the engagement letter is addressed and also any other person that we have agreed with you may rely on our work.
By signing the engagement letter, you agree that you have given proper consideration to this limit and accept that it is reasonable in all the circumstances. If you do not wish to accept it you should contact us to discuss it before signing the engagement letter.
You have agreed that you will not bring any claim of a kind that is included within the subject of the limit against any of our directors or employees on a personal basis.
21. Limitation of Third Party Rights
The advice and information we provide to you as part of our service is for your sole use and not for any third party to whom you may communicate it unless we have expressly agreed in the engagement letter that a specified third party may rely on our work. We accept no responsibility to third parties, including any group company to whom the engagement letter is not addressed, for any advice, information or material produced as part of our work for you which you make available to them. A party to this agreement is the only person who has the right under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 to enforce any of its terms.
22. Money Laundering Regulations 2017
In accordance with the Proceeds of Crime Act, The Terrorism Act, Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 you agree to waive your right to confidentiality to the extent of any report made, document provided or information disclosed to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
You also acknowledge that we are required to report directly to the NCA without prior reference to you or your representatives if during the course of undertaking any assignment the person undertaking the role of Money Laundering Reporting Officer becomes suspicious of money laundering.
As with other professional services firms, we are required to have appropriate risk based policies and procedures for assessing and managing money laundering risks: this applies at the start of any business relationship and through the lifetime of the relationship. This includes undertaking appropriate customer due diligence. We may request from you, and retain, such information and documentation as we require for these purposes and/or make searches of appropriate databases. If we are not able to obtain satisfactory evidence of your identity, we will not be able to proceed with the engagement.
Copies of such records created as part of the client due diligence process, including any non-engagement documents relating to the client relationship and ongoing monitoring of it, will be retained by us for a period of five years after we cease to act for the business unless we are required to retain them under statutory obligation, or to retain them for legal proceedings, or you consented to the retention in which case the records will be retained for not more than 10 years.
23. Period of engagement and termination
Unless otherwise agreed in the engagement covering letter our work will begin when we receive your implicit or explicit acceptance of that letter, except as stated in that letter we will not be responsible for periods before that date.
Each of us may terminate this agreement by giving not less than 21 days’ notice in writing to the other party except where you fail to cooperate with us or we have reason to believe that you have provided us or HMRC with misleading information, in which case we may terminate this agreement immediately. Termination will be without prejudice to any rights that may have accrued to either of us prior to termination.
In the event of termination of this contract, we will endeavour to agree with you the arrangements for the completion of work in progress at that time, unless we are required for legal or regulatory reasons to cease work immediately. In that event, we shall not be required to carry out further work and shall not be responsible or liable for any consequences arising from termination.
If you engage us for a one-off piece of work (for example advice on a one-off transaction or preparation of a tax return for one year only) the engagement ceases as soon as that work is completed. The date of completion of the work is taken to be the termination date and we owe you no duties and we will not undertake further work beyond that date.
Where recurring work is provided (for example ongoing compliance work such as the completion of annual tax returns) the engagement ceases on the relevant date in relation to the termination as set out above. Unless immediate termination applies, in practice this means that the relevant termination date is:
• 21 days after the date of notice of termination; or
• a later agreed date
We owe you no duties beyond the date of termination and will not undertake any further work.
24. Professional body rules and statutory obligations
We will observe and act in accordance with the by-laws, regulations and ethical guidelines of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and will accept instructions to act for you on this basis.
You are responsible for bringing to our attention any errors, omissions or inaccuracies in your returns that you become aware of after the returns have been submitted in order that we may assist you to make a voluntary disclosure.
In particular, you give us the authority to correct errors made by HMRC where we become aware of them. In addition, we will not undertake tax planning which breaches professional conduct in relation to taxation. We will therefore comply with the general anti-abuse and the targeted anti-avoidance rule. We will not be liable for any loss, damage or cost arising from our compliance with statutory or regulatory obligations. You can see copies of these requirements at our offices.
The requirements are also available online at www.accaglobal.com/en.html.
The implications of professional body membership as it relates to GDPR are set out in the privacy notice, which should be read alongside these standard terms and conditions of business.
25. Provision of Services Regulations 2009
In accordance with our professional body rules we are required to hold professional indemnity insurance. Details about the insurer and coverage can be found at our offices.
26. Quality of service
We are committed to providing you with a high-quality service that is both efficient and effective. However, if you would like to talk to us about how we can improve our service to you, or if you are unhappy with the service you are receiving, please let us know by contacting Rhoda Cooper.
We will carefully consider any complaint that you may make about our service as soon as we receive it and will do all we can to resolve the issue. We will acknowledge your complaint within five business days of its receipt and endeavour to deal with it within 8 weeks. Any complaints made orally will be acknowledged in writing, stating our understanding of the nature of the complaint.
For all services apart from Wills and Probate
If we do not answer your complaint to your satisfaction you may take up the matter with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. This should be done promptly and in any event no later than 6 months after exhausting our procedures.
Should ACCA consider a complaint appropriate for conciliation, it is competent to offer alternative dispute resolution through its Conciliation Service. ACCA’s website address is www.accaglobal.com. Please note that, under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) conciliation process we are not obliged to submit to ACCA’s conciliation process.
For Probate only
If we do not deal with it within this timescale or you are unhappy with our response you may of course take the matter up with the Legal Ombudsman. Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman should be made within six years of the act or omission or within three years of you becoming aware of the issue, and in either case within six months of our written response to your complaint to us. The contact details for the Legal Ombudsman are:
Letter: Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ
Telephone: 0300 555 0333
Where your complaint relates to the misconduct of a CILEX Practitioner (ACCA-Probate), you can refer your complaint free of charge to CILEx Regulation for them to investigate. Misconduct complaints must be made within 12 months of the act or omission that gave rise to the complaint or within 12 months of the complainant having knowledge of the act or omission that gave rise to the complaint, whichever is the greater.
Website – www.cilexregulation.org.uk
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone – 01234 845770
Letter – CILEx Regulation, Room 301, Endeavour House, Wrest Park, Silsoe, Bedfordshire, MK45 4HS
The full version of our Complaints Handling Procedure can be found on our website. www.finchtax.com/finchprobate.
27. Reliance on advice
We will endeavour to record all advice on important matters in writing. Advice given orally is not intended to be relied upon unless confirmed in writing. Therefore, if we provide oral advice (for example during the course of a meeting or a telephone conversation) and you wish to be able to rely on that advice, you must ask for the advice to be confirmed by us in writing. However, bear in mind that advice is only valid at the date it is given.
28. Retention of papers
You have a legal responsibility to retain documents and records relevant to your tax affairs. During the course of our work we may collect information from you and others relevant to your affairs. We will return any original documents to you if requested.
When we cease to act for you we will seek to agree the position on access to cloud-accounting records to ensure continuity of service. This may require you to enter direct engagements with the software providers and pay for that service separately. Documents and records relevant to your affairs are required by law to be retained as follows:
Individuals, trustees and partnerships
- with trading or rental income: 5 years and 10 months after the end of the tax year;
- otherwise: 22 months after the end of the tax year;
Companies, LLPs and other corporate entities
- 6 years from the end of the accounting period;
While certain documents may legally belong to you, we may destroy correspondence and other papers that we store, electronically or otherwise, which are more than 7 years old. This includes your documents if they have not been reclaimed by you within the seven-year period. You must tell us if you require the return of any specific document or their retention for a longer period.
For Wills only
We will maintain client files for a period of 6 years after your death, or for a period of 6 years after you have notified us in writing that your document(s) have been revoked, whichever event occurs first.
In addition to tax advice, we can also complete your annual self assessment tax returns.