Do you think you should have Legal Professional Privilege?
In September a poll conducted by Accountancy Age showed that 77% of its readers wanted Legal Professional Privilege to extend to accountants giving tax advice.
Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) would give accountants the same protection that lawyers enjoy when they advise clients. Discussions between lawyers and their clients remain secret even during a court trial.
In a recent case involving Prudential, the Court of Appeal commented that it would be reasonable for LPP to cover advice given by accountants to their clients. However, the Court of Appeal is unable to change the law. Only Parliament can change the law.
At present, accountants can claim LPP for any legal advice they give but this is strictly limited. So what is your position?
- If you become aware of money laundering, you have a legal obligation to report your client but
- If you provide advice in a “privileged” situation, you are not obliged report it under section 330 of the POCA 2002 & the MLR 2003
- LPP does not apply to offences committed under the Terrorism Act
This is an important area of law for us all. On one hand, accountants are expected to provide financial advice to our businesses and on the other they know that any information they receive may be called upon as evidence in court. This raises an important question: how can we give the best possible advice to clients when they may feel unable to provide us with all the information about their position because it is not covered by LPP.
At Sue Rees, we are always keen to understand our clients better. After all, issues which affect you may have an effect on the service we provide. We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter and would really value feedback on what this means for the service we deliver to you.