Accountants and financial advisers are relied upon by both individuals and companies to deal with their finances and taxes. Negligent advice from an accountant can potentially have serious consequences given that certain tax offences can lead to HMRC levying criminal sanctions against a taxpayer.
Negligence occurs when a duty of care is breached in such a way as to cause foreseeable harm or financial loss to somebody else. Negligence was defined in Blyth v Birmingham Waterworks Co  EWHC Exch J65 as failing to act in the way that a reasonable man would have acted in such circumstances. In order to present a successful claim in negligence there must have been a duty of care owed by the accountant to yourself and that duty will have been breached which has caused loss.
Is my accountant negligent?
Accountants in England and Wales are professionally regulated by the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Accountants are instructed to provide trustworthy financial and taxation advise/information to individuals or companies. Your accountant could be negligent if they have for example:
- provided incompetent advice concerning tax reliefs and exemptions;
- overcharging of fees;
- incorrectly valuing a company; and
- mistakes with preparing accounts for you or your company.
What can I do if my accountant is negligent?
If you believe your accountant has made a mistake or has been negligent you should seek legal advice immediately.
Our team of specialist professional negligence lawyers can assist you with your professional negligence enquiry by reviewing your matter in detail and giving legal advice on steps that can be taken.
How do I prove that my accountant has been negligent?
In order to sue an accountant for negligence, a claimant must establish three elements to the civil standard of proof (on a balance of probabilities, i.e. it must be proved by the claimant that the financial adviser’s breach of duty caused the claimant to suffer loss).
1.Demonstrate that the accountant owed you a duty of care: the boundary lines between when a tortious duty of care is owed or not owed is subject to tests that are being continuously evolved by the courts. A duty of care exists where the accountant can be shown to have objectively assumed responsibility.
2. Establish that the accountant has breached the duty of care owed to you: proving breach will obviously vary depending on the individual circumstances of the case. A claimant needs to demonstrate that the breach shows that the accountant fell below the standards of a reasonably competent adviser in that speciality.
3. Prove that the accountant’s breach caused loss to you: you must prove both factual and legal causation. The test for factual causation is that “but for” the accountant’s breach you would not have suffered loss. Legal causation must also be proved i.e. the loss must be reasonably foreseeable at the time when the relevant duty was breached.
Book an Initial Consultation with our Professional Negligence Lawyers
Do you have a claim against a professional? If you want expert legal advice, do not delay in instructing us so we can assess the legal merit of your case.
We can often take on such claims on a no win no fee basis (such as a Conditional Fee Arrangement) once we have discussed the claim with you and then assessed and advised you on the merits of the proposed professional negligence action.
Our expert legal team of leading Professional Negligence Solicitors & Barristers can provide urgent help, advice or representation to you. Just call our Professional Negligence Lawyers on 02071830529 or email us now.
Instruct Specialist Professional Negligence Solicitors
We are a specialist City of London law firm made up of Solicitors & Barristers operating from the only law firm based in the Middle Temple Inns of Court adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice. Our team have expertise in advising on claims for compensation against professionals that have fallen below the standard expected, which causes clients financial or personal loss. We are experienced in bringing successful claims against negligent solicitors, barristers, financial advisers, surveyors, valuers, architects, builders, tax advisers and IFAs.