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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3840
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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I have used an accountant small company annual accounts,

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I have used an accountant for my small company annual accounts, initial payroll, and Corporation and VAT returns. Fees were always discussed, agreed and I would confirm by signing the accountant's documents and supplying the relevant information. However, this accountant proposed very high fees last year for preparing accounts to 31Jul13 which I didi not agree to or authorise.
He is now threatening legal action if his invoice is not paid. What should I do?
Hi, Thank you for your question and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I will assist you. Did the accountant give you a retainer letter before doing the work? Did he do the work without you giving him instructions to do so? Are the fees comparable to previous years? Has he explained why there is a substantial up lift? Kind regards AJ
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Did the accountant give you a retainer letter before doing the work? I would sign an annual agreement on fees but did not sign his proposed retainer last year for accounts to Jul13.Did he do the work without you giving him instructions to do so? Yes, it appears he did although he claims they were not completed I do have a copy from my new accountant who had to write to HMRC for a copy.Are the fees comparable to previous years? No they are a significant increase.Has he explained why there is a substantial up lift? Yes, he is justifying the increases particularly in bookkeeping but again these with all his proposed fees were not authorised.
Hi, Thank you. If you did not agree the fees, did not instruct him to do the work and did not authorise the uplift - then just because he has sent you an invoice does not mean that he can claim it. If he wants to sue you that is his prerogative, but I think you would have a strong defence that this work was never accepted or authorised therefore there is no contractual agreement. You should also consider complaining to the - this is a conduct issue in that a regulated professional should not be unilaterally imposing charges on its clients without consent.Is any of his work useful? Would you be prepared to pay a small fee for any of the work in order to stop this going to court?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. ***** might be prepared to pay a small fee to stop this going to court. Some of his advice has been useful especially his initial advice when I started my company in 2011 but he has also made a lot of errors and missed deadlines with HMRC for which he has had to pay fines (after I chased him!).
Thank you.
Your options are:
- Either pay the bill in full and leave it be;
- Refuse to pay the bill and risk going through the court process - which will be time consuming;
- Offer to settle.
I would personally take the third option and write to him and mark the letter "Without Prejudice save as to costs" and say as follows:
- You are disappointed that your relationship has deteriorated;
- Say you do not feel you should have to pay the full amount as you never instructed the work to be carried out or agreed the fees;
- Say that with a view to settling this and without any admission of liability you are prepared to pay a fee of £X in acknowledgement that some of the work may be of use - but this must draw the matter to a close;
- Say that if he wants to continue the dispute over the invoice, you reserve the right to defend yourself and recover the cost of doing so from him (and if you want to be aggressive then I would also mention that you feel this is a conduct issue and reserve the right to make a complaint to his regulator).
The only thing I would say about going to court is that it is time consuming and the time wasted you will never truly be compensated for.
I look forward to hearing from you
Kind regards
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