Terms Of Business
SB&P TERMS OF BUSINESS
1. Applicable law
- This engagement letter shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, English law. The Courts of England shall have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any claim, dispute or difference concerning the engagement letter (including the firm’s terms of business) and any matter arising from it. Each party irrevocably waives any right it may have to object to an action being brought in those Courts, to claim that the action has been brought in an inconvenient forum, or to claim that those Courts do not have jurisdiction.
- Persons who are not party to this agreement shall have no rights under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 to enforce any term of this agreement. This clause does not affect any right or remedy of any person which exists or is available otherwise than pursuant to that Act.
- The advice we give you is for your sole use and is confidential to you and will not constitute advice for any third party to whom you may communicate it. We will accept no responsibility to third parties for any aspect of our professional services or work that is made available to them.
- 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 light of any change in the law or in 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.
- Client Identification
As with other professional services firms, we are required to identify our clients for the purposes of the UK anti-money laundering legislation. We may request from you, and retain, such information and documentation as we require for these purposes and/or make searches of appropriate databases. If we are not able to obtain satisfactory evidence of your identity, we will not be able to proceed with the engagement.
3. Quality of service
We aim to provide you with a fully satisfactory service and Suzanne Draper as engagement partner will seek to ensure that this is so. If, however, you are unable to deal with any difficulty through her and her team please contact Wendy McNulty, Managing Partner, email@example.com. We undertake to look into any complaint carefully and promptly and to 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 the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) by whom we are regulated for audit purposes.
4. Client monies
- We may, from time to time, hold money on your behalf. Such money will be held in trust in a client bank account, which is segregated from the firm’s funds. The account will be operated, and all funds dealt with, in accordance with the Clients’ Money Regulations of the ICAEW.
- If the total sum of money held on your behalf is enough to give rise to a significant amount of interest or is likely to do so, we will put the money in a designated interest-bearing client bank account and pay the interest to you. Subject to any tax legislation, interest will be paid gross.
- We will return monies held on your behalf promptly, as soon as there is no longer any reason to retain those funds. If any funds remain in our client account that are unclaimed, and the client to which they relate has remained untraced for five years, or we as a firm cease to practice, we may pay those monies to a registered charity.
5. Investment Advice – Exempt Regulated Activities
- Although we are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to conduct Investment Business, we are licensed by the ICAEW to provide certain limited investment services where these are complementary to, or arise out of, the professional services we are providing to you.
- Such assistance may include the following:
- advising you on investments generally, but not recommending a particular investment or type of investment;
- referring you to a Permitted Third Party (PTP) (a firm authorised by the FCA) and assisting you and the authorised third party during the course of any advice given by that party. This may include comment on, or explanation of, the advice received (but we will 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. The firm may receive commission from such an introduction, in which case you will be fully informed of the expected size and nature of such commission at the time of the introduction.
- advising on the sale of a contractually based investment other than disposing of any rights or interests which you may have as a member of a personal pension scheme;
- advising and assisting you in transactions concerning shares or other securities not quoted on a recognised exchange;
- managing investments or acting as trustee (or one of a power of attorney) where decisions to invest are taken on the advice of an authorised person;
- other, as appropriate.
- 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 valuation and methods;
- arrange any agreements in connection with the issue, sale or transfer of the company’s shares or other securities;
- arrange for the issue of the new shares; and
- act as the addressee to receive confirmation of acceptance of offer documents etc.
Insurance Mediation Activities
- Although we not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we might carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the ICAEW. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at fca.org.uk/register.
5.5 If you are dissatisfied in any way with our services described in this section, you should follow the procedures set out in the “Quality of Service” section above. 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.
Insofar as we are permitted to do so by law or professional guidelines, we reserve the right to exercise a lien over all funds, documents and records in our possession relating to all engagements for you until all outstanding fees and disbursements are paid in full.
7. Fees and payment terms
- Our fees may depend not only on the time spent on your affairs by the partners and our staff and on the levels of skill and responsibility involved, but also the level of risk identified and any advice provided. Unless otherwise agreed, our fees will be billed at appropriate intervals during the course of the year and will be due on presentation.
- We may indicate a fixed/indicative fee for the provision of specific services. We will not usually identify fixed fees for more than a year in advance as these may need to be revised in light of subsequent events. Where we estimate our fees for any specific work, this will not be binding unless this is clearly stated to you.
- In some cases, you may be entitled to assistance with your professional fees, particularly in relation to any investigation into your tax affairs by HMRC. Assistance may be provided through insurance policies you hold or via membership of a professional or trade body. Other than where such insurance was arranged through us, you will need to advise us of any such insurance cover you have. You will remain liable for our fees regardless of whether all or part are liable to be paid by your insurers.
- If it is necessary to carry out work outside the responsibilities outlined in this letter it will involve additional fees. Accordingly we would like to point out that it is in your interests to ensure that your records etc., are completed to the agreed stage.
Our fees will exclude out of pocket expenses. Out of pocket expenses (plus VAT) will be billed as incurred for reimbursement by you.
- Invoices are payable in full before the report is signed and the accounts are made available for filing.
- It is our normal practice to request that clients make arrangements to pay a proportion of their fee on a monthly standing order. These standing orders will be applied to fees arising from work agreed in this letter of engagement for the current and ensuing years. Once we have been able to assess the amount of work and time involved we would be grateful if you would agree to pay an amount to us on a regular basis.
- Our terms relating to payment of amounts invoiced and not covered by standing orders, where appropriate, are strictly due on presentation.
8. Period of Engagement and Termination
8.1 Unless otherwise agreed in the engagement covering letter our work will begin when we receive your implicit or explicit acceptance of that letter. Except as stated in that letter we will not be responsible for periods before that date.
8.2 Each of us may terminate this agreement by giving not less than 21 days’ notice in writing to the other party except where you fail to co-operate with us or we have reason to believe that you have provided us or HMRC with misleading information, in which case we may terminate this agreement immediately. Termination will be without prejudice to any rights that may have accrued to either of us prior to termination.
8.3 We reserve the right to terminate the engagement between us with immediate effect in the event of: your insolvency, bankruptcy or other arrangement being reached with creditors; an independence issue or change in the law which means we can no longer act; failure to pay our fees by the due dates; or either party being in breach of their obligations if this is not corrected within 30 days of being asked to do so.
8.4 In the event of termination of this contract, we will endeavour to agree with you the arrangements for the completion of work in progress at that time, unless we are required for legal or regulatory reasons to cease work immediately. In that event, we shall not be required to carry out further work and shall not be responsible or liable for any consequences arising from termination.
9. 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.
- You are not permitted to use our name in any statement or document 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.
- If any provision of our engagement letter, the enclosed schedules or terms of business is held to be void, then that provision will be deemed not to form part of this contract and the remainder of this agreement shall be interpreted as if such provision had never been inserted.
10.2 In the event of any conflict between these terms of business and the engagement letter or appendices, the relevant provision in the engagement letter or schedules will take precedence.
11. Retention of and access to records
- You have a legal responsibility to retain documents and records relevant to your financial affairs. During the course of our work we may collect information from you and others relevant to your tax and financial affairs. We will return any original documents to you, if requested. Documents and records relevant to your tax affairs are required by law to be retained as follows:
Individuals, trustees and partnerships:
- With trading or rental income: five years and 10 months after the end of the tax year
- Otherwise: 22 months after the end of the tax year.
Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships and other corporate entities:
- six years from the end of the accounting period.
11.2 Although certain documents may legally belong to you, we may destroy correspondence and other papers that we store electronically or otherwise that are more than seven years old, except documents we think may be of continuing significance. You must tell us if you wish us to keep any document for any longer period.
12. Electronic and other communication
- Unless you instruct us otherwise, we may, if appropriate, communicate with you and with third parties by email or other electronic means. The recipient is responsible for virus checking emails and any attachments.
- With electronic communication, there is a risk of non-receipt, delayed receipt, inadvertent misdirection or interception by third parties. We use virus-scanning software to reduce the risk of viruses and similar damaging items being transmitted in emails or by electronic storage devices. Nevertheless, electronic communication is not totally secure and we cannot be held responsible for damage or loss caused by viruses or for communications which are corrupted or altered after despatch. Nor can we accept any liability for problems or accidental errors relating to this means of communication especially in relation to commercially sensitive material. These are risks you must bear in return for greater efficiency and lower costs. If you do not wish to accept these risks, please let us know and we will communicate by paper mail, other than when electronic submission is mandatory.
- Any communication by us with you sent through the postal system is deemed to arrive at your postal address two working days after the day the document was sent.
13. Data Protection
- To enable us to discharge the services agreed in this engagement letter, comply with related legal and regulatory obligations and for other related purposes including updating and enhancing client records and analysis for management purposes, as a data controller, we may obtain, use, process and disclose personal data about [you / your business / company / partnership / its shareholders / members / officers and employees] as described in our privacy notice. We confirm when processing data on your behalf that we will comply with the provisions of all relevant data protection legislation and regulation including the Data Protection Act 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and any related regulations.
- 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 this engagement letter relieves you as a data controller of your own direct responsibilities and liabilities under data protection legislation and regulation.
- Our privacy notice, which can be found on our website at www.sb-p.co.uk explains how we process personal data in respect of the various services that we provide.
14.1 Should we resign or be requested to resign we will normally issue a disengagement letter to ensure that our respective responsibilities are clear.
14.2 Should we have no contact with you for a period of 12 months or more we may issue to your last known address a disengagement letter and thereafter cease to act.
- Unless we are authorised by you to disclose information on your behalf, we confirm that if you give us confidential information we will, at all times during and after this engagement, keep it confidential, except as required by law or as provided for in regulatory, ethical or other professional pronouncements applicable to us or our engagement.
- You agree that, if we act for other clients who are or who become your competitors, to comply with our duty of confidentiality it will be sufficient for us to take such steps as we think appropriate to preserve the confidentiality of information given to us by you, both during and after this engagement. These may include taking the same or similar steps as we take in respect of the confidentiality of our own information.
- In addition, if we act for other clients whose interests are or may be adverse to yours, we will manage the conflict by implementing additional safeguards to preserve confidentiality. Safeguards may include measures such as separate teams, physical separation of teams, and separate arrangements for storage of, and access to, information.
- You agree that the effective implementation of such steps or safeguards as described above will provide adequate measures to avoid any real risk of confidentiality being impaired.
- We may, on occasions, subcontract work on your affairs to other tax or accounting professionals. The subcontractors will be bound by our client confidentiality terms.
- Where appropriate, if we use external or cloud based systems, we will ensure confidentiality of your information is maintained.
- We reserve the right, for the purpose of promotional activity training or for other business purpose, to mention that you are a client. As stated above, we will not disclose any confidential information.
16. External review
As part of our ongoing commitment to providing a quality service, our files are periodically reviewed by an independent regulatory or quality control body. These reviewers are highly experienced and professional people and, of course, are bound by the same rules for confidentiality as us.
17. Professional rules and practice guidelines
We will observe and act in accordance with the [bye-laws, regulations and Code of Ethics of the ICAEW and accept instructions to act for you on this basis. In particular you give us the authority to correct errors made by HMRC where we become aware of them. We will not be liable for any loss, damage or cost arising from our compliance with statutory or regulatory obligations. You can see copies of these requirements in our offices. The requirements are also available on the internet at [www.icaew.com/regulations]1. We confirm that we are Statutory Auditors eligible to conduct audits under the Companies Act 2006. When conducting audit work we are required to comply with the Revised Ethical Standard 2016 and the International Standards on Auditing (UK) which can be accessed on the internet at https://www.frc.org.uk/Our-Work/Audit-and-Actuarial-Regulation/Audit-and-assurance/Standards-and-guidance.aspx
18. Conflicts of interest
- We will inform you if we become aware of any conflict of interest in our relationship with you or in our relationship with you and another client, unless we are unable to do so because of our confidentiality obligations. We have safeguards that can be implemented to protect the interests of different clients if a conflict arises. If conflicts are identified which cannot be managed in a way that protects your interests, we regret that we will be unable to provide further services.
- If there is a conflict of interest that is capable of being addressed successfully by the adoption of suitable safeguards to protect your interests, we will adopt those safeguards. In resolving the conflict, we would be guided by ICAEW’s Code of Ethics, which can be viewed at icaew.com/en/membership/regulations-standards-and-guidance/ethics. During and after our engagement, you agree that we reserve the right to act for other clients whose interests are or may compete with or be adverse to yours, subject, of course, to our obligations of confidentiality and the safeguards set out in the paragraph on confidentiality above.
- Internal Disputes within a Client
If we become aware of a dispute between the parties who own the business, or who are in some way involved in its ownership and management, 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 registered office for the attention of the directors. If conflicting advice, information or instructions are received from different directors in the business, we will refer the matter back to the [board of directors/partnership] and take no further action until the [Board] [partnership] has agreed the action to be taken.
20. The Provision of Services Regulations 2009
- We are registered to carry on audit work in the UK and Ireland by the ICAEW. Details of our audit registration can be viewed at auditregister.org.uk for the UK and for Ireland at www.cro.ie/auditors under reference number C005762881.
- Our professional indemnity insurer is Aqueous Underwriting, 30 Fenchurch Avenue, London EC3M 5AD. 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 or Canada.
21. Reliance on advice
We will endeavour to record all advice on important matters in writing. Advice given orally is not intended to be relied upon unless confirmed in writing. Therefore, if we provide oral advice (for example during the course of a meeting or a telephone conversation) and you wish to be able to rely on that advice, you must ask for the advice to be confirmed by us in writing.
22. Timing of our services
If you provide us with all information and explanations on a timely basis in accordance with our requirements, we will plan to undertake the work within a reasonable period of time in order to meet any regulatory deadlines. However, failure to complete our services prior to any such regulatory deadline would not, of itself, mean that we are liable for any penalty or additional costs arising.