Standard Terms of Business
The following terms of business apply to all engagements accepted by Eszter Petrinovics trading as OptiAccounts. All work is carried out under these terms except where changes are expressly agreed in writing.
- Applicable law
1.1 Our engagement letter, the schedules of services and our standard terms and conditions of business are governed by, and should be construed in accordance with English law. Each party agrees that the courts of England will have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any claim, dispute or difference concerning this engagement letter and any matter arising from it on any basis. Each party irrevocably waives any right 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.
- Client identification, Anti money laundering and Criminal activities
2.1 We observe and act in accordance with the Professional Conduct Regulations of the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) and accept your instructions on the basis that we shall abide by those Regulations. We are not liable for any loss and/or damage and/or cost arising from our compliance with statute or the ATT Regulations.
2.2We are obliged by Law and by ATT to undertake checks to ensure that you and your business are operating lawfully. The checks require us to obtain and retain proof of your beneficial owners, officers and managers identity and residence. By agreeing to our terms of engagement you accept that we are authorised to complete such checks as necessary.
2.3 As with other professional services firms, before we accept any instructions from you we are required to identify our clients for the purposes of the UK anti-money laundering legislation supervised by The Association of Taxation Technicians. We are obliged to comply with the duties laid out by the Bribery Act 2010, Fraud Act 2006, Criminal Finances Act 2017, Terrorism Act 2000, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 the Money Laundering Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulations 2017 as well as other UK Law. Part of those duties requires us to obtain documentary evidence to confirm the identity, addresses and business details of you and your beneficial owners, officers and managers, which we will require before accepting your instruction. The information we will need is: [A Utility bill (from either you/your company) not more than three months old, a Passport or driving licence or Photo ID cards of each named beneficial owner, officer and manager, and a Certificate of Incorporation (if a Ltd company)]
2.4 We assume that our clients are honest and law abiding. However, if at any time, there appear to be grounds to suspect (even if we do not actually suspect) that your instructions relate to ‘criminal property’, we are obliged to make a report to the National Crime Agency (“NCA”), but we are prohibited from telling you that we have done so.
In such circumstances, we must not act on your instructions without consent from NCA. If NCA do not refuse consent within 7 working days we may continue to act. If NCA issue a refusal within that time, we must not act for a further 31 days from the date of the refusal.
‘Criminal property’ is property in any legal form, whether money, real property, rights or any benefit derived from criminal activity. It does not matter who carried out the criminal activity or how removed the property is from the original crime. Even if you are honest in your dealings, if your property represents a benefit from someone else’s crime, we must still make a report.
Activity is considered ‘criminal’ if it is a crime under UK law, no matter how trivial For example, tax evasion is a criminal offence but an honest mistake is not. We will assume that all discrepancies are mistakes unless there is contrary evidence.
3.1 We are committed to providing you with a high quality service that is both efficient and effective. However, should there be any cause for complaint in relation to any aspect of our service please contact us. We agree to look into any complaint carefully and promptly and do everything reasonable to put it right. If you are still not satisfied you can refer your complaint to our professional body, The Association of Taxation Technicians referring the membership number: 251449
4.1 Communication between us is confidential and we shall take all reasonable steps to keep confidential your information except where we are required to disclose it by law, by regulatory bodies, by our insurers or as part of an external peer review. Unless we are authorised by you to disclose information on your behalf this undertaking will apply during and after this engagement.
4.2 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.
- Conflicts of interest
5.1 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. 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.
5.2 If there is a conflict of interest that is capable of being addressed successfully by the adoption of suitable safeguards to protect your interests then we will adopt those safeguards. We reserve the right to provide services for other clients whose interests are not the same as yours or are adverse to yours subject of course to the obligations of confidentiality referred to above.
- Data protection
6.1 During the course of our instruction we will need to process your personal data. When doing so we confirm that we shall comply with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the General Data Protection Regulations 2017 from 25 May 2018. We will need to process your personal data to complete the terms of this engagement and are likely to use it when maintaining our client records and/or for complying with supervisory, regulatory and legal requirements and crime prevention. In order to comply with our supervised requirements we will need to share your personal information with our supervisor, ATT [Further details on our usage of and the protection of your personal data can be found in our Privacy Notice].
6.2We will also communicate with you by email, and we confirm that it will be the responsibility of the recipients for checking emails and attachments for viruses. We will not be responsible for problems, accidental errors, losses or corrupted and altered data affecting the electronic communications after despatch.
6.3 We shall take all reasonable steps to keep your information and communications confidential with the exception of legal, regulatory and/or supervisory disclosure. We also reserve the right to disclose your personal information to our insurer for specific purposes and/or to disclose your personal data to third parties if you have given us your explicit, written consent to disclose it. All of the information under this heading will be held for a period not exceeding 6 years after the engagement has ended.
7.1 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 6 months or more we may issue to your last known address a disengagement letter and hence cease to act.
7.2 Should we become aware, or have reason to believe that you have misled HMRC or otherwise engaged in criminal or suspect activity, we reserve our right to immediately terminate the Letter and that such termination will be implemented without prejudice to either party’s rights in the Letter
7.3 Should you consider to disengage you must do so in writing 30 days prior last day of expected engagement.
- Electronic and other communication
8.1 Unless you instruct us otherwise we may, where appropriate, communicate with you and with third parties via email or by other electronic means. The recipient is responsible for virus checking emails and any attachments.
8.2 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 through emails or electronic storage devices. However electronic communication is not totally secure and we cannot be held responsible for damage or loss caused by viruses nor 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 where electronic submission is mandatory.
8.3 Any communication by us with you sent through the post system is deemed to arrive at your postal address two working days after the day that the document was sent.
- Fees and payment terms
9.1 Our fees may depend not only upon the time spent on your affairs but also on the level of skill and responsibility and the importance and value of the advice that we provide, as well as the level of risk.
9.2 If we provide you with an estimate of our fees for any specific work, then the estimate will not be contractually binding unless we explicitly state that that will be the case.
9.3 Where requested we may indicate a fixed fee for the provision of specific services or an indicative range of fees for a particular assignment. It is not our practice to identify fixed fees for more than a year ahead as such fee quotes need to be reviewed in the light of events. If it becomes apparent to us, due to unforeseen circumstances, that a fee quote is inadequate, we reserve the right to notify you of a revised figure or range and to seek your agreement thereto.
9.4 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. You will need to advise us of any such insurance cover that you have. You will remain liable for our fees regardless of whether all or part are liable to be paid by your insurers.
9.5 Unless we have agreed with you a monthly Direct debit arrangement on recurring fees, we will bill you periodically or according to the schedule of payment set out in the Letter of Engagement upon completion of work, and our invoices are due for payment 7 days of issue unless separate agreement. Our fees are out of scope of VAT. Any disbursements we incur on your behalf and expenses incurred in the course of carrying out our work for you will be added to our invoices where appropriate.
9.6 Unless otherwise agreed to the contrary our fees do not include the costs of any third party, counsel or other professional fees.
9.7 We reserve the right to charge interest on late paid invoices at the rate of 5% above bank base rates under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. We also reserve the right to suspend our services, withholding all prepared documents or to cease to act for you – including submission of statutory returns and information or any scheduled work on your behalf as well as notifying the authorities involved – on giving written notice if payment of any fees is unduly delayed. We intend to exercise these rights only where it is fair and reasonable to do so.
9.8 If you do not accept that an invoiced fee is fair and reasonable you must notify us within 7 days of receipt, failing to do so, you will be deemed to have accepted that payment is due.
9.9 If a client company, trust or other entity is unable or unwilling to settle our fees we reserve the right to seek payment from the individual, directors, or parent company giving us instructions on behalf of the client and we shall be entitled to enforce any sums due against the Group Company or individual nominated to act for you.
10.1 We will only assist with implementation of our advice if specifically instructed and agreed in writing.
- Intellectual property rights
11.1 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.
12.1 If any provision of our engagement letter or terms of business is held to be void, then that provision will be deemed not to form part of this contract. 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.
- Internal disputes within a client
13.1 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 registered office/normal place of business for the attention of the directors/proprietors. If conflicting advice, information or instructions are received from different directors/principals in the business we will refer the matter back to the board of directors/the partnership and take no further action until the board/partnership has agreed the action to be taken.
- Investment advice
14.1 Investment business is regulated by the Financial Services and markets Act 2000. If during the provision of professional services to you, you need advice on investments including insurances, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Services Authority as we are not.
15.1 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
Limitation of third party rights
16.1 The advice and information we provide to you as part of our service is for your sole use and not for any third party to whom you may communicate it unless we have expressly agreed in the engagement letter that a specified third party may rely on our work. We accept no responsibility to third parties, including any group company to whom the engagement letter is not addressed, for any advice, information or material produced as part of our work for you which you make available to them. A party to this agreement is the only person who has the right to enforce any of its terms and no rights or benefits are conferred on any third party under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.
16.2 If it becomes necessary to subcontract some of the work on your matter, any subcontractors we employ shall be bound by the same terms of confidentiality and Rule of Professional Conduct by which we are governed.
- Period of engagement and termination
17.1 Unless otherwise agreed in our engagement letter, our work will begin when we receive implicit or explicit acceptance of that letter. Except as stated in that letter we will not be responsible for periods before that date.
17.2 Each of us may terminate our agreement by giving not less than 30 days notice in writing to the other party except where you fail to cooperate 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.
17.3 In the event of termination of our 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.
- Professional rules and statutory obligations
18.1 We will observe and act in accordance with the bye-laws, regulations and code of ethics of The Association of Taxation Technicians and will accept instructions to act for you on this basis. We will not be liable for any loss, damage or cost arising from our compliance with statutory or regulatory obligations.
- Reliance on advice
19.1 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.
- Retention of papers
20.1 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: 5 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: 6 years from the end of the accounting period.
20.2 Whilst 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.