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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69784
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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A local accountant has recently lost 6 years worth of my business

Customer Question

A local accountant has recently lost 6 years worth of my business cheque stubs. This has resulted in a tax liability of £25,000.I can't prove I don't owe the money without the stubs. The accountant is denying all knowledge, but the collating and deposit of the cheque stubs was witnessed by a 3rd party. We have made a few enquiries and discovered several other clients of the same firm have had a similar problem , though not on such a large scale. I am considering offering a reward (local paper; facebook)for the return of the stubs as it seems possible that they have inadvertently been given to a client unrelated to us. If I don't give any clue as to the identity of the accountant, am I legally in the right to do this?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Why did you not have a clue as to the identity of the accountant?

Can you not get the cheques from the bank?

Who is the third party that witness this?

What proof do you have that the tax liability is as a direct result of the nonavailability of the stubs?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I do know the accountant: Purple Accounts

The bank will provide copies of the cheques, but at a cost of £5 per cheque. Because we do not know which cheques relate to staff payments (this is what i am being taxed on)we will have to have a copy of every single cheque issued for 6 years.

The third party witness is the friend who helped me to compile the cheques stubs and deliver them by hand to the accountant (Purple).


The tax office have informed my current (new!) accountant that the tax liability relates to payments to sub contracted staff. If I can provide evidence of payments to staff, the tax liability will shrink accordingly.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

It does not matter which individual dealt with in because you have a negligence claim against the firm provided you can prove that you gave them the stubs in the first place and they will lost within the firm.
Unless you can prove that you gave them the stubs, you have no claim in negligence.

Assuming that you can do that, you need evidence of the amount of loss.

I don't know whether you did any kind of reconciliation in the six-year period whereby you can cross reference the bank statements to the cheques but it may be that you do not need all the cheques because clearly, smaller amounts are unlikely to relate to payments to employees.

The fact that other people may have had the problem with this firm does not actually mean that they lost your cheque stubs. It is purely circumstantial evidence.

At this stage I would get a sworn statement from the third party witness saying who he delivered the cheque stubs to, on what date and what approximate time and what other documents were with them.

Send a copy of that to the firm by way of a formal complaint and ask them to investigate the matter and revert to you within the next 14 days.

Ask them for details of their regulatory body so that you can make a formal complaint about the breach of service standard and also ask them for details of their professional indemnity insurer.

Your new accountant is going to have to come up with a schedule of loss to support any indemnity claim.

This is not going to be a quick or easy thing to tackle.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69784
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you Jo,

Back to the original question: can I advertise the fact that the docs are missing and offer a reward in the hope that someone else has been accidentaly given them? At this stage I'm not interested in doing damage to the firm in question, just want my cheque stubs back!





Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
You can advertise that the documents are missing and offer a reward but be careful of making allegations as to who or why they were lost.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello Jo,


We do not know for sure the date that we handed over the documents, although the person who accompanied me at the handover is willing to make a sworn statement to the effect that the documents were handed over. Does it matter that we do not have an exact date?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
People very often don't have an exact date and it is not fatal to any claim. All that would happen is that in any statement it would say words to the effect of "sometime in early January" or "sometime between 3 January and 8 January", and that is normally taken as being satisfactory
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the positive rating and remember that I am always available to help with your questions. For future information, please start your question with ‘FOR JO C’. You can also bookmark my profile

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