Terms of Business
If you want to have a look at the Hornbeam small print then please read on. Our terms of business are there for you as much as they are there for us. We are happy to wear our T&C’s on our sleeves!
1.0 Professional rules and practice guidelines
1.1 We will observe and act in accordance with the bye-laws, regulations and code of ethics of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales 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 by clicking here. We confirm that we are Registered Auditors eligible to conduct audits under the Companies Act 2006.
2.0 Investment advice
2.1 If during the provision of professional services to you, you need advice on investments, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, as we are not. However, as we are licensed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, we may be able to provide certain investment services that are complementary to, or arise out of, the professional services we are providing to you. Such advice may include valuation of small businesses, presentations to banks or investors for funding, advice on business acquisitions etc. 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 in respect of exempt regulated activities undertaken.
2.2 We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are included on the Register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can 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 Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website. Under this umbrella we offer insurance which covers our fees if HMRC open a tax investigation into your affairs. Please ask if you are interested in this type of insurance.
3.0 Commissions or other benefits
3.1 In some circumstances we may receive commissions or other benefits for introductions to other professionals or transactions we arrange for you. In this case, we will notify you in writing of the amount, the terms of payment and receipt of any such commissions or benefits. The fees you would otherwise pay as described below will not be reduced by such amounts. You agree that we can retain the commission or other benefits without being liable to account to you for any such amounts.
4.0 Clients’ money regulations
4.1 In very unusual circumstances we may hold money on your behalf. The 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 Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
4.2 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 practise then we may pay those monies to a registered charity.
5.0 Retention of records
5.1 During our work we will collect information from you and others acting on your behalf and will return any original documents to you following completion of our work. You should retain them for six years from the 31 January following the end of the accounting or tax year. You should retain them for longer if HM Revenue & Customs enquire into your tax return.
5.2 Whilst certain documents may legally belong to you, unless you tell us not to, we intend to destroy correspondence and other papers 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.
6.0 Conflicts of interest and independence
6.1 We reserve the right during our engagement with you to deliver services to other clients whose interests might compete with yours or are or may be adverse to yours, subject to 7 below. We confirm that we will notify you immediately should we become aware of any conflict of interest involving us and affecting you / the company / partnership.
7.1 We confirm that where you give us confidential information, we shall at all times keep it confidential, except as required by law or as provided for in regulatory, ethical or other professional statements relevant to our engagement.
8.0 Data Protection Act 1998
8.1 To enable us to discharge the services agreed under our engagement, and for other related purposes including updating and enhancing client records, analysis for management purposes and statutory returns, crime prevention and legal and regulatory compliance, we may obtain, use, process and disclose personal data about you / your business / company / partnership / its officers and employees. We confirm when processing data on your behalf that we will comply with the relevant provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.
9.0 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Money Laundering Regulations 2007
9.1 In common with all accountancy and legal practices, the firm is required by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 to: have due diligence procedures for the identification of all clients; maintain appropriate records of evidence to support customer due diligence; and report to the Serious Organised Crime Agency in accordance with the relevant legislation and regulations.
10.0 Quality control
10.1 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 our principals and staff.
11.0 Help us give you the best service
11.1 We wish to provide a high quality of service at all times. If at any time you would like to discuss with us how our service to you could be improved, or if you are dissatisfied with the service you are receiving please let us know by contacting Phil Needham on 01603 720424.
11.2 We undertake to look into any complaint carefully and promptly and 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 our professional body, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
12.0 Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999
12.1 Only someone who is a party to this agreement has the right under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 to enforce any of its terms. This clause does not affect any right or remedy that exists independently of the Act.
12.2 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.
13.1 If we have quoted you a fixed fee we will honour it. In subsequent years our fees will be monitored on the basis of the time spent on your affairs by the principals and staff and on the levels of skill or responsibility involved, and will be varied to reflect the changes in your business and the costs incurred by us. We will seek to avoid unexpected increases in our fees for our services. Our fees will be billed at appropriate periods, together with outlays and VAT, and our invoices will be due for payment when issued.
13.2 If you instruct us to do work outside the responsibilities outlined in our engagement letter, this will involve additional fees.
13.3 We normally ask clients to pay a proportion of their fee on a monthly standing order or direct debit. These payments will be applied to fees for work performed under our engagement letter for the current and ensuing years.
13.4 We reserve the right to charge interest on overdue accounts at the current rate under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. We also reserve the right to charge up to £25 per month plus VAT at the standard rate to cover our credit control costs where your payment has not been received more than 60 days after date of invoice. Finally, we reserve the right to terminate our engagement and cease acting if payment of any fees billed is unduly delayed.
14.0 Applicable law
14.1 Our engagement with you is governed by, and interpreted in accordance with, English law. The Courts of England shall have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any claim, dispute or difference concerning our engagement letter and terms of business and any matter arising from or under them. Each party irrevocably waives any right it may have to object to any 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.
15.0 The Provision of Services Regulations 2009
15.1 We are registered to carry on audit work in the UK by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Details of our audit registration can be viewed at here under reference number C009194769.
15.2 Our professional indemnity insurer is Royal and Sun Alliance, of Epic Underwriting, Castlemead, Lower Castle Street, Bristol, BS1. 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.
16.0 Limitation of liability
16.1 We will provide services as outlined in the engagement letter with reasonable care and skill. However, to the fullest extent permitted by law, we will not be responsible for any losses, penalties, surcharges, interest or additional tax liabilities where you or others supply incorrect or incomplete information, or fail to supply any appropriate information or where you fail to act on our advice or respond promptly to communications from us or the tax authorities.
16.2 You will not hold us, our partners and staff responsible, to the fullest extent permitted by law, for any loss suffered by you arising from any misrepresentation (intentional or unintentional) supplied to us orally or in writing in connection with this agreement. You have agreed that you will not bring any claim in connection with services we provide to you against any of our partners or employees personally.
16.3 Our work is not, unless there is a legal or regulatory requirement, to be made available to third parties without our written permission and we will accept no responsibility to third parties for any aspect of our professional services or work that is made available to them.
17.0 Changes to our Terms of Business
17.1 From time to time our terms of business will need to be changed to accommodate changes to legislation, new insurers or such like. If this does not constitute a material change to our contract with yourselves, we will post the revised terms and conditions on our website and this will be deemed notice to you.