We are a member of ICAS and in our conduct are subject to its Code of Ethics which can be found at www.icas.com/ethics/icas-code-of-ethics. We will observe and act in accordance with the bye-laws and regulations of ICAS. We accept instructions to act for you on this basis.
Where we become aware of errors made by HM Revenue & Customs you give us authority to correct them. We will not be liable for any loss, damage or cost arising from our compliance with statutory or regulatory obligations.
As required by the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 (SI 2009/2999) details of the firm’s professional registrations can be found at www.balfourshaw.co.uk
Provision of probate-type services
We are not licensed or authorised for the reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate. Consequently, any work we do for you on closely aligned activities, such as estate administration or inheritance tax advice, will not be covered by any compensation scheme, this service will not be covered by personal legal privilege and you will not have access to the Legal Ombudsman.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
In accordance with the disclosure requirements of the Provision of Services Regulations 2009, our professional indemnity insurer is Epic Underwriting, Castlemead, Lower Castle Street, Bristol BS1 3AG. The territorial coverage is worldwide excluding professional business carried out from an office in the United States of America or Canada and excludes any action for a claim brought in any court in the United States of America or Canada.
Our fees are calculated on the basis of time spent on your affairs by the principals of the firm and our staff (including any sub-contractors or consultants that we may employ) and on the levels of skill and responsibility involved. In addition we may charge disbursements of travel, accommodation and other expenses incurred in dealing with your affairs.
If it is necessary for us to carry out work that is outside the scope of the engagement currently in place with you, we will advise you of this. Any additional work will result in additional fees being charged. We would therefore like to point out that it is in your interests to ensure that the information your provide us with is completed to the agreed stage.
Where we have agreed that you will pay on an invoice rendered basis, invoices are payable in full (including disbursements) in accordance with the terms set out on the invoice. Any queries you have on our invoices must be notified to us within 21 days of receipt or we shall deem you to have accepted that payment is due.
Where we have agreed that you will pay us on a standing order basis, we will discuss with you separately the amount and frequency of payments. These standing orders will be applied to fees arising from work agreed in our letter of engagement for the current and ensuing years. Where a scheduled monthly payment is not made any fees invoiced to you that are outstanding at that time will immediately become due for payment in entirety.
You may have an insurance policy or membership of a trade or professional body that entitles you to assistance with payment of our fees in some situations. A particular example would be assistance with an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs. Unless you arranged the insurance through us then you will need to advise us of any such cover you have. Please note that you remain liable for our fees regardless of whether all or part are liable to be paid by your insurers.
We reserve the right to charge interest on overdue accounts at the current rate under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. We also reserve the right to terminate our engagement and cease acting if payment of any fees billed is unduly delayed.
Insofar as we are permitted to do so by law or professional guidelines, we reserve the right to exercise a lien over all documents and records in our possession. We will only exercise this right where those documents and records relate specifically to the work undertaken on your behalf and until such times as all outstanding fees and disbursements are paid in full.
We also reserve the right to terminate our engagement and cease acting if payment of any fees billed is unduly delayed.
In the event that we cease to act for you then you agree to meet all reasonable costs of providing information to your new advisers. In particular you agree to meet these costs where we are required by law to provide information to a successor firm.
Directors of a client company guarantee to pay personally any fees (including disbursements) for services provided to the company that the company is unable to pay. This clause shall become effective in the event of a receiver or liquidator being appointed to the company or the company otherwise being wound-up.
Help us to give you the right service
If at any time you would like to discuss with us how our service to you could be improved, or if you are dissatisfied with the service you are receiving, please let us know by contacting Gordon Howes.
We undertake to look into any complaint carefully and promptly and do all we can to explain the position to you. If we do not answer your complaint to your satisfaction you may of course take up the matter with ICAS.
In order for us to continue to provide you with a high quality service it is essential that you provide us with relevant records and information when requested, reply to correspondence in a timely manner and otherwise follow the terms of the agreement between us set out in these terms of business and any associated engagement letters.
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 fifteen months or more we may issue to your last known address a disengagement letter and hence cease to act.
We reserve the right to cancel the engagement between us with immediate effect in the event of:
- Your insolvency, bankruptcy or other arrangement being reached with creditors.
- Failure to pay our fees by the due dates.
- Either party being in breach of their obligations where this is not corrected within 30 days of being asked to do so.
Commissions or other benefits
In some circumstances, commissions or other benefits may become payable to us or one of our associates in respect of transactions we or such associates arrange for you. If this happens we will notify you in writing of the amount and terms of payment. The fees that would be otherwise payable by you will be abated by such amounts. When we reduce the fees that we would otherwise charge by the amount of commission retained, we will apply the HMRC concession which allows VAT to be calculated on the net fee after deduction of the commission. You consent to such commission or other benefits being retained by us or, as the case may be, by our associates, without our, or their, being liable to account to you for any such amounts.
We may at times hold money on your behalf. Any such money will be held on trust in a client bank account, which is held separately to funds that belong to us. The client bank account will be operated, and all funds dealt with, in accordance with the ICAS Clients’ Money Regulations.
We shall return monies held on your behalf promptly as soon as there is no longer any reason to retain those funds.
To avoid excessive amounts of administration, interest will only be paid to you if the amount of interest that would be earned on the balances held on your behalf in any calendar year exceeds £25. Any such interest would be calculated using the prevailing rate applied by our banker for small deposits subject to the minimum period of notice for withdrawals. Subject to any tax legislation, interest will be paid gross.
If the total sum of money held on your behalf exceeds £10,000 for a period of time of more than 30 days, then the money will be placed in a separate interest-bearing client bank account designated to you. All interest earned on such money will be paid to you. Subject to any tax legislation, interest will be paid gross. We will exercise reasonable skill and care to ensure that a fair rate of interest is earned.
We are required under the client money regulations to appoint an alternate to administer the client bank account in the event of the death or incapacity of the principal. This alternate must be a firm, or member registered with one of the CCAB bodies, providing that member holds a current practising certificate issued by the relevant professional body. We are also required to have arrangements in place with the bank operating the client bank account. The alternate appointed by this firm is Neil Paterson of Paterson Boyd & Co.
Retention of and access to records
During the course of our work we will collect information from you and others acting on your behalf and will return any original documents to you following the preparation of your accounts and returns. You have a legal responsibility to retain these records. The law requires individuals, trustees and partnerships to keep records in relation to trading or rental income 6 years from the 31 January following the end of the tax year to which they relate. Other records should be kept for 22 months after the end of the tax year they relate to. Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships and other corporate entities are required to keep records for 6 years from the end of the accounting period.
Whilst certain documents may legally belong to you, unless you tell us not to, we intend to destroy correspondence and other papers that we store which are more than seven years old, other than documents which we consider to be of continuing significance. If you require retention of any document you must notify us of that fact in writing.
Conflicts of interest and independence
We reserve the right during our engagement with you to deliver services to other clients whose interests might compete with yours or are or may be adverse to yours. We confirm that we will notify you immediately should we become aware of any conflict of interest involving us and affecting you.
We have safeguards that can be implemented to protect the interests of different clients if a conflict arises. Where conflicts are identified which cannot be managed in a way that protects your interests then we regret that we will be unable to provide further services.
If a conflict of interest should arise, either between two or more of our clients, or in the provision of multiple services to a single client, we will take such steps as are necessary to deal with the conflict. In resolving the conflict, we would be guided by the ICAS Code of Ethics which can be viewed at www.icas.org.uk/Ethics.aspx.
Communication between us is confidential and we shall take all reasonable steps to keep your information confidential except where we are required to disclose it by law, by regulatory bodies, by our insurers or as part of an external peer review. We may, on occasions, subcontract work on your affairs to other tax or accounting professionals. Any subcontractors we use will be bound by the same confidentiality requirements.
As part of our continuing commitment to providing a quality service, our files are periodically subject to an independent regulatory or quality review. Our reviewers are highly experienced and professional people and are, of course, bound by the same requirements of confidentiality as our principals and staff.
This engagement letter is governed by, and construed in accordance with Scots Law. The Courts of Scotland 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 it may have 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.
If any provision in these terms of business or any associated engagement letter, or its application, are found to be invalid, illegal or otherwise unenforceable in any respect, the validity, legality or enforceability of any other provisions shall not in any way be affected or impaired.
Changes in the Law
We will not accept responsibility if you act on advice previously given by us without first confirming with us that the advice is still valid in the light of any change in the law or your circumstances.
We will accept no liability for losses arising from changes in the law or the interpretation thereof that occur after the date on which the advice is given.
Unless you tell us otherwise we will at times use email or other electronic means to communicate with you.
Internet communications are capable of data corruption and therefore we do not accept any responsibility for changes made to such communications after their despatch. It may therefore be inappropriate to rely on advice contained in an e-mail without obtaining written confirmation of it. Unless specifically stated, such communications should not be construed as an offer or acceptance, or to form part of a legally binding contract. Any views expressed in such communications are those of the individual sender, except where the sender specifically states them to be the views of Balfour Shaw CA.
We do not accept responsibility for any errors or problems that may arise through the use of internet communication and all risks connected with sending commercially sensitive information relating to your business are borne by you. If you do not agree to accept this risk, you should notify us in writing that email is not an acceptable form of communication and that all relevant communications should be by post.
In accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 we are required when transmitting personal information (including sensitive data as prescribed by the Act, or personal financial information) to encrypt all email communications to at least the minimum standard of FIPS 140-2.
We may be able to provide you with the means to communicate with us in an encrypted format. If you do not agree to the of use encryption technology when required by law, you should notify us in writing that encrypted email is not an acceptable form of communication and that all relevant communications should be by post.
It is the responsibility of the recipient to carry out a virus check on any attachments received.
We may obtain, use, process and disclose personal data about you, your business, the business principals, owners, persons with significant control and employees, as a data controller. We shall obtain such personal data as is required to enable us to discharge our services, comply with related legal and regulatory obligations and for other related purposes including updating and enhancing client records and analysis for management purposes, as described in our privacy notice. We confirm when processing data on your behalf that we shall comply with the provisions of all relevant data protection legislation and regulation.
You are also an independent controller responsible for complying with data protection legislation and regulation in respect of the personal data you process and, accordingly where you disclose personal data to us you confirm that such disclosure is fair and lawful and otherwise does not contravene relevant requirements. Nothing within these terms relieves you as a data controller of your own direct responsibilities and liabilities under data protection legislation and regulation.
Data protection legislation and regulation places obligations on you as a data controller where we act as a data processor to undertake the processing of personal data on your behalf, for example where we operate a payroll service for you. We therefore confirm that we shall take appropriate measures to comply with relevant requirements when processing data on your behalf. In particular we confirm that we have adequate security measures in place and that we will comply with any obligations equivalent to those placed on you as a data controller.
Our privacy notice, which can be found on our website at www.balfourshaw.co.uk explains how we process personal data in respect of the various services that we provide.
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007
In common with all accountancy and legal practices, the firm is required by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 to:
- Maintain identification procedures for clients and beneficial owners of clients;
- Maintain records of identification evidence and the work undertaken for the client; and
- Report, in accordance with the relevant legislation and regulations.
We are obliged to comply with the terms and conditions of the legislation. We will provide details if requested.
The offence of money laundering is defined by section 340(11) of the Proceeds of Crime Act and includes concealing, converting, using or possessing the benefits of any activity that constitutes a criminal offence in the UK. It also includes involvement in any arrangement that facilitates the acquisition, retention, use or control of such a benefit.
We are obliged by law to report any instances of money laundering to SOCA without your knowledge or consent. In consequence, neither the firms’ principals nor staff may enter into any correspondence or discussions with you regarding such matters.
We are not required to undertake work for the sole purpose of identifying suspicions of money laundering. We shall fulfil our obligations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in accordance with the guidance published by the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies.
We may use electronic checks as part of our identification procedures. We confirm that these electronic checks are not credit checks.
General limitation of liability
We will provide services as outlined in this letter with reasonable care and skill. However, to the fullest extent permitted by law, we will not be responsible for any losses, penalties, surcharges, interest or additional tax liabilities where you or others supply incorrect or incomplete information, or fail to supply any appropriate information or where you fail to act on our advice or respond promptly to communications from us or the tax authorities.
You will not hold us, the owners of this firm and any staff employed by the firm, responsible, to the fullest extent permitted by law, for any loss suffered by you arising from any misrepresentation (intentional or unintentional) supplied to us orally or in writing in connection with this agreement. You have agreed that you will not bring any claim in connection with services we provide to you against any of the principals or employees personally.
Our work is not, unless there is a legal or regulatory requirement, to be made available to third parties without our written permission and we will accept no responsibility to third parties for any aspect of our professional services or work that is made available to them.
Use of our name in statements or documents issued by you
You are not permitted to use our name in any statement or document that you may issue unless our prior written consent has been obtained. The only exception to this restriction would be statements or documents that in accordance with applicable law are to be made public.
Draft and interim work
In the course of our providing services to you we may provide advice or reports or other work products in draft or interim form. However, final written work products will always prevail over any draft, or interim statements. Where you request it, we will provide you with written confirmation of matters stated orally.
Advice we give you orally should not be relied upon unless we confirm it in writing. We endeavour to record all advice on important matters in writing. However if you particularly wish to rely upon oral advice we give you during a telephone conversation or a meeting, you must ask for the advice to be confirmed in writing.
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.
Internal disputes within a client
If we become aware of a dispute between the parties who own or are in some way involved in the ownership and management of the business, it should be noted that our client is the business and we would not provide information or services to one party without the express knowledge and permission of all parties. Unless otherwise agreed by all parties we will continue to supply information to the normal place of business for the attention of the directors or proprietors, as appropriate. If conflicting advice, information or instructions are received from different directors or principals in the business we will refer the matter back to the board of directors or the partnership and take no further action until the board or partnership has agreed the action to be taken.
Provision of cloud-based services
Where the firm provides accounting software in the Cloud, this will be provided by a third party (the ‘Cloud Supplier’). The third party has signed a confidentiality agreement with the firm to ensure compliance with the relevant clauses in the firm’s standard terms of business i.e. our fees, Confidentiality, Internet Communication, Data Protection Act and General Limitation of Liability
The service provided by the Cloud Supplier will be a discrete web based hosted facility, and you agree that access will also be provided to the firm and the third party.
The firm cannot be held liable for any interruption of service provided by the Cloud Supplier. However, we will liaise with them to help ensure that normal service is resumed as soon as possible.
Since we are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) then we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised if you need advice on investments. However, as we are licensed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, we may be able to provide certain investment services that are complementary to, or arise out of, the professional services we are providing to you.
We may therefore be able to:
- advise you on investments generally, but not recommend a particular investment or type of investment;
- refer you to a Permitted Third Party (PTP) (an independent firm authorised by the FCA), assist you and the PTP during the course of any advice given by that party and comment on, or explain, the advice received (but not make alternative recommendations). The PTP will issue you with his own terms and conditions letter, will be remunerated separately for his services and will take full responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000;
- advise you in connection with the disposal of an investment, other than your rights in a pension policy or scheme;
- advise and assist you in transactions concerning shares or other securities not quoted on a recognised exchange;
- assist you in making arrangements for transactions in investments in certain circumstances; and
- manage investments or act as trustee (or donee of a power of attorney) where decisions to invest are taken on the advice of an authorised person.
- For corporate clients we may also, on the understanding that the shares or other securities of the company are not publicly traded:
- advise the company, existing or prospective shareholders in relation to exercising rights, taking benefits or share options, valuations and methods of such valuations;
- arrange any agreements in connection with the issue, sale or transfer of the company’s shares or other securities;
- arrange for the issue of new shares; and
- act as the addressee to receive confirmation of acceptance of offer documents etc.
In the unlikely event that we cannot meet our liabilities to you, you may be able to claim compensation under the Chartered Accountants’ Compensation Scheme in respect of exempt regulated activities undertaken.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to conduct Investment Business. If you require investment business services we shall recommend that you seek advice from a firm authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Please note that we are not authorised to hold client money in connection with our designated investment business.
Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Common Reporting Standards
Unless agreed specifically in a separate engagement letter, we are not responsible for your compliance with the International Tax Compliance (United States of America) Regulations 2013, produced as a result of FATCA. In particular, we are not responsible for the categorisation of any UK entity into either a Financial Institution (FI) or an active or passive Non-Financial Foreign Entity (NFFE) nor, if a Financial Institution, for its registration with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and subsequent submission of the required annual returns to HM Revenue & Customs.
However, if requested to do so we can provide advice on the completion of the forms supplied by Financial Institutions under these Regulations, or under Common Reporting Standards, and used by them to determine the status of an entity. We can also provide advice on setting up the appropriate systems to identify and report on your clients or beneficiaries who are foreign citizens affected by FATCA or Common Reporting Standards.