Why do accountants need legal representation?


29th October 2021

When your reputation is on the line, it can be a stressful time but we have specialist lawyers to give accountants the legal representation they need. If a complaint has been made against you, our Accountants Defence team can assist professionals in a variety of hearings.

The benefits of using legal representation

In general, having legal advice when you are facing an investigation can make a crucial difference to the outcome and give you reassurance throughout the process. Often, the earlier you seek advice, the better it will be for you.

As with most issues, it will not help burying your head in the sand, it is better to know exactly what you are facing and how best to deal with it. Having legal representation will help you to:

  • Understand the process and exactly what the case is against you.
  • Know whether or not you might have access to any funds, via insurance or other means to help fund legal representation.
  • Ensure that any engagement with the process is done strategically with full knowledge of what the case is against you, what the potential consequences are and knowing when and what to say.
  • Consider a proper strategy to achieve the best possible outcome in the circumstances.
  • Have the support and guidance required to guide you through a very stressful time.

If lawyers are involved early, they are able to manage and control the process with all the information and material available at the time. This means that you will be in the best possible position to limit or avoid any damage. There are certain things your lawyer can say that you cannot say when responding to allegations against you.

The process

There are many different regulators for accountants and the process differs but they are broadly similar. There is a sifting process where a complaint is made and looked into.

Typically you will receive a letter from your governing body. It will lay out evidence and a decision will need to be made if you have anything to say on the matter. The letter will state that the complaint will be put before an investigating committee. That is usually the first point in which you become engaged.

If there is cogent evident to support a serious allegation, you will need to appear before a disciplinary committee or tribunal, depending on your governing body, and that is where witnesses may be called. At this stage, you will need to be presenting evidence, cross examining witnesses and arguing points of law – a point at which having legal representation would be essential for most accountants.

At what point do solicitors get involved?

Responding to the letter

You might wish to yourself to the initial letter informing you of the complaint, or engage with a solicitor at this point to get legal advice. If you are unable to respond immediately, you should apply for an extension. If responding yourself, care would need to be taken to ensure that you provide the right amount of information at this initial stage. You will be asked to respond quite quickly to the letter but the hearing may not come around for a while.

Investigation

If you have been informed that the complaint is going to an investigation, it is wise to engage in legal representation so that evidence can be gathered and ensure that you are aware of the process and aware of all the possible options and pitfalls.

Hearing

When it comes to the hearing, legal representation is usually critical as you will be arguing points of law and cross-examining expert witnesses. You will get a better outcome if you are represented by an experienced lawyer who is used to defending professionals.

Appeal

There might be grounds for an appeal or for a review – it would be essential to get a solicitor involved at this stage. Specialist lawyers can advise on merit of the appeal and the appeal process.

Why should you come to Blake Morgan for legal representation?

If you are registered with any of the regulatory bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS), the Taxation disciplinary board (TDB), or the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), we can help. We have an Accountants Defence team with the pedigree on working in this field for a significant period of time and representing accountants in front of a wide variety of regulatory bodies, including the above and more.

Your reputation could be significantly damaged so using highly experienced regulatory lawyers would be wise.

Legal knowledge, expertise and responsiveness is a given but you will also benefit from our empathy and understanding of someone facing this difficult situation. We will do our best to lead you through the process in a sensitive and supportive way. We will also be straightforward and will not hesitate to provide advice, which you may find uncomfortable but which is essential to your best interests.

If you have had a complaint made against you and are facing an investigation, contact our Accountants Defence team for legal representation, support and guidance through the process.

If you need advice on anything in this article

Speak to a member of our Accountants Defence team

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