Accountant Negligence

It is common nowadays for individuals in addition to, businesses and other corporation (e.g charities) to engage the services of an accountant.

Accountants can now provide of advice on a variety of accountancy matters such as tax, audit, acquisitions and compliance.

If you have engaged the services of an accountant and consider that the accountant has been negligent and such negligence has resulted in a financial loss, you may be able to bring a professional negligence claim against your accountant.

Unfortunately, individuals and businesses can suffer greatly if an accountant is negligence and provides the wrong advice. There can be instances of severe financial loss which in turn can have catastrophic consequences for the businesses and individuals involved.

Accountants are regulated by one of two professional organisations.

Both of these organisations offer complaint procedures for individuals who have suffered from negligent advice from an accountant. While this form of complaint procedure can provide positive outcomes there are instances where the outcome is unsatisfactory and you may need to take further action to recover your losses.

Examples of accountant negligence:

  • Submitting incorrect tax returns or accounts
  • Filing documents with HMRC and Companies House late
  • Failing to give proper tax advice
  • Failing to advise a sole trader to setup as a limited company so as to claim tax relief
  • Overvaluing company assets
  • Failing to detect fraud when auditing a company’s accounts.

IFA & Stockbroker Negligence

If you engage the services of an independent financial advisor (IFA) or stockbroker, they have a duty to act with reasonable care and skill when providing advice or handling or investing money.

If you have received negligent advice or been mis-sold a financial product, and suffered a loss as a result, you may be able to bring a professional negligence claim.

Independent financial advisors and stockbrokers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA has a Code of Conduct which all financial advisors should abide by.

If you have received bad or poor advice or a level of service that is sub-standard, you should firstly make a complaint to the relevant firm’s complaints department. However, internal complaints procedures do not always result in a satisfactory result. If so, your next step should be to contact the Financial Services Ombudsman.

This independent body can carry out an investigation and may be able to award compensation.

However, any compensation awarded by the Ombudsman may not reflect the losses you have suffered as a result of the IFAs or stockbrokers negligence or breach and court proceedings can always be brought for the full amount of losses you have suffered. The Ombudsman can only award up to £150,000 so if your claim is in excess of this sum you should consider court proceedings. We can assist with complaints to the Ombudsman and court proceedings where necessary.

Negligence involving IFAs and stockbrokers can often be complex and technical. In order to successfully bring a negligence claim against the financial advisor in question, you will have to show that the advice you received was not consistent with advice that another reasonable professional would have given.

That will often require expert evidence from an independent financial advisor.

Loss alone does not constitute grounds for a negligence claim against a financial advisor. For example, if an investment loses value due to unforeseen economic circumstances, it may not be the IFA’s fault.

Conversely, if your financial advisor has been negligent but no loss is caused, again your claim may not be successful.

Given the complexities of our tax system it is very common for individuals and companies to seek the assistance of tax advisers. Advice is often sought regarding tax avoidance schemes which allow an individual to reduce the amount of tax that might be otherwise payable. In certain situations, HMRC can take issues with such schemes meaning that the clients are left with a large back dated tax bills plus potential fines for late payments.

Tax advisers owe their clients a duty of care. It is a legal requirement that the tax advisor will provide a reasonably competent level of service. If this duty is breached and a financial loss is caused, there may be grounds to bring a professional negligence claim against the tax advisor in question.

Examples of Tax Adviser Negligence:

  • Failing to consider the VAT implications on a property transaction
  • Losing tax credits by not claiming them soon enough
  • Missing deadlines for claiming tax credits or property related capital allowances
  • Failing to reorganise group companies to reduce avoidable tax charges
  • Failing to advise on proper payroll procedures
  • Failing to provide standard tax advice to companies setting up or exiting the UK market
  • Missing consequential adverse implications when giving commercial or basic tax advice
  • Failing to advise on tax consequences of transactions such as disincorporation
  • Failing to ensure all relevant criteria are met when facilitating a claim for specific tax relief
  • Failing to advise on inheritance tax relief and how this liability can be reduced.

Mortgage Broker Negligence

In recent years, claims against mortgage brokers have increased dramatically.

If a mortgage broker has mis-sold you a mortgage or advised you to take on an inappropriate or unaffordable mortgage, you may be entitled to compensation if you can establish you have suffered a financial loss.

Examples of Mortgage Broker Negligence: 

  • Failing to comply with FSA Guidelines including the FSA Handbook;
  • Failing to notify you of other mortgages available on the market which may be suitable;
  • Failing to explain what charges, commissions and penalties will be payable by you;
  • Failing to explain that a capital repayment would be required at the end of an interest only mortgage;
  • Failing to provide relevant documents such as the Key Facts document, Mortgage Illustrations and Complaints Procedure;
  • Failing to investigate and understand your full financial situation;
  • Failing to ensure your income was sufficient to meet the mortgage payments; and
  • Failing to advise cancelling an existing mortgage and taking out a new one instead of simply extending the old mortgage.

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Our Approach & Our Experience

Our litigation department is rated as “top tier” by the independent legal 500 so you can be assured that you will receive the best possible care and legal advice.

We offer a no obligation, free assessment of your professional negligence claim and we are flexible when it comes to funding claims. We will often work under a conditional fee arrangement (“no win, no fee”).

If you have suffered negligent advice from a financial advisor or accountant please contact our specialist solicitors for your free assessment.

Our experience with accountancy negligence:

Acting for a restaurant proprietor in Shrewsbury who sued its accountant for preparing an incorrect VAT return. The client was held liable for back dated VAT. The claim was successfully settled part way through the court process.

Acting for a large construction company. The company’s auditors missed a long systematic trail of false accounting by a bookkeeper, which meant she had stolen about £500,000 from our client. A claim was brought against the auditors. The claim settled part way through the court proceedings at a formal mediation with the client recovering most of the money outstanding.

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Progress every matter in an efficient and timely matter.

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Meet Our Specialists

Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our specialists are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.

Adam Maher

Adam Maher

Adam is a Partner and is Head of our Commercial Litigation department

Jonathan Hassall

Jonathan Hassall

Jonathan is a Partner in our Commercial Litigation department

Seán Hackett

Seán Hackett

Seán is a Senior Solicitor in the Property Litigation Team of our Commercial Litigation Department

Tim Norman

Tim Norman

Tim is a Senior Partner in our Commercial Litigation department

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Please send us your enquiry using this enquiry form, or you can send us an email to lawyers@myerson.co.uk