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Compromised Accountant

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  • Compromised Accountant

    I recently discovered that the accountant who is doing my mother's income tax has been seriously misbehaving over the ten months that I have been involved with him as executor of her estate, resulting in exorbitant fees of over £3100 as well as adding significantly to our solicitor fees. This happened because he had been manipulated by one of my sisters who had also fooled our solicitor into believing that she was an executor which I didn't realise till the solicitor sent me the oath for the grant of probate where this sister was listed as an executor with reserved status!

    The main issue is that he ignored instructions I gave him at the start to liaise with our solicitor rather than myself, and exploited a family situation that he was already well aware of before my mother's death resulting in fees for redundant work that I was unaware of until he presented his final invoice. For instance an invoice sent to me for over £1300 which I took to represent most of the necessary work was followed a month later by one for a similar amount to my co-executor, which I was unaware of till nearly three months later.

    He gave me every impression that he was only dealing with me over the tax matters, and I was updating my co-executor via emails to our solicitor, but for all practical purposes he started treating us as separate clients, which he deliberately kept from me and he failed to share information between us that would have resolved issues much sooner.

    After the returns had been submitted to HMRC, and my 5th unsuccessful request for properly itemised invoices when I said that I would complain to his professional body if he would not comply, I received a pile of emails and attachments from the accountancy partnership with a scan of a 'billing analysis' in a tiny font and they obviously expected me to go through their incomplete set of documents and dispute individual items. It would take weeks of work looking at the content of over 100 emails and attachments including my own records and match them to individual items because many items are not clearly identified and in a lot of cases it may be impossible.

    It has taken me a couple of weeks to check my own records to see how he has kept me in the dark and I wonder whether it would be a better idea in my response to focus on specific instances of dishonesty and misconduct in the case of fees that I can identify, but apart from that, to highlight specific events where the accountant has created a knock-on effect of fees for unnecessary work and emails due to his own mistakes, acts or omissions. In those cases would it be reasonable to ask them to re-evaluate the fees that resulted and amend their invoices accordingly?

    Alternatively would it be an option to request arbitration by the accountant's professional body whose rules allow it if both parties apply?

    I am also unsure of the legal status between us because the accountant never sent an agreement or terms of business to sign or gave me any information about his fees. Would we be bound by the agreement and terms of business that my mother signed when she first engaged him in 2016 to do her 2017 tax return?

    Any advice would be welcome..

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