General terms and conditions in respect of work undertaken for clients of our firm
- Applicable law
- Client identification and verification
- Commissions or other benefits
- Conflicts of interest
- Consumer Credit
- Data Protection
- Intellectual property rights
- Internal disputes
- Investment services
- Limitations of liability
- Limitations of Third Party Rights
- Money Laundering Regulations 2017
- Period of engagement and termination
- Professional rules and statutory obligations
- Provision of Services Regulations 2009
- Quality of service
- Reliance on advice
- Retention of papers
These terms and conditions set out the general terms under which we undertake our business. The specific conditions relating to particular assignments will be covered by individual engagement letters.
Our engagement letter, the schedule of services and our standard terms and conditions of business are governed by, and should be construed in accordance with, Scots law. Each party agrees that the Courts of Scots law will have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any claim, dispute or difference concerning our engagement and any matter arising from it. 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.
As with other professional services firms, we are required to identify and verify our clients for the purposes of UK anti-money laundering legislation. Save for exceptional circumstances we cannot start work until this requirement has been met. We may request from you, and retain, such information and documentation as we require for these purposes and/or make searches of appropriate databases including ID verification software.
In some circumstances, commissions or other benefits may become payable to us in respect of transactions which we arrange for you. Where this happens we will notify you of the amount and terms of payment.
You agree that we can retain any commission or other benefits without being liable to you for any such amounts.
As instructed, we will communicate with you and with any third parties you instruct us to as set out in our covering letter and privacy notice via email or by other electronic means. The recipient is responsible for virus-checking emails and any attachments.
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.
Any communication by us with you sent through the post is deemed to arrive at your postal address two working days after the day that the document was sent.
You are required to keep us up to date with accurate contact details at all times. This is important to ensure that communications and papers are not sent to the wrong address.
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 our engagement.
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.
We will inform you if we become aware of any conflict of interest which could impact on our relationship with you. Where conflicts are identified which cannot be managed in a way that protects your interests then we regret that we may be unable to provide further services.
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. Safeguards may include measures such as separate teams, physical separation of teams, and separate arrangements for storage of and access to information. Where possible this will be done on the basis of your informed consent.
We reserve the right to act for other clients whose interests are not the same as or are adverse to yours, subject of course to the obligations of confidentiality referred to above.
If, during the provision of professional services to you, you need advice or services on areas from us that fall within Consumer Credit activity, we may have to refer you to someone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as we are not authorised to undertake this activity.
We confirm that we will comply with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when processing personal data about you.
- obtaining, recording or holding personal data; or
- carrying out any operation or set of operations on personal data, including collecting and storage, organising, adapting, altering, using, disclosure (by any means) or removing (by any means) from our records (manual and digital).
The information we obtain, process, use and disclose will be necessary for:
- the performance of our engagement
- compliance with our legal and regulatory compliance and crime prevention
- contacting you with details of other services where you have consented to us doing so
- other legitimate interests relating to protection against potential claims and disciplinary action against us.
This includes, but is not limited to, purposes such as updating and enhancing our client records, analysis for management purposes and statutory returns.
Further details on the processing of data are contained in our privacy notice, which should be read alongside these terms and conditions.
Should we resign or be requested to resign a disengagement letter will normally be issued to ensure that our respective responsibilities are clear.
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.
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.
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 various 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. We reserve the right to review our charge out rates and fees, and tend to do this annually around April.
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. Other than where such assurance was arranged through us 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.
Our fee will be confirmed as part of the relevant letter of engagement. These will be reviewed, but not necessarily increased, annually.
We will bill upon completion of work carried out and not in advance, and our invoices are due for payment 20 days following the end of the month of issue. Our fees are exclusive of VAT which will be added where it is chargeable. 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.
Unless otherwise agreed to the contrary our fees do not include the costs of any third party, counsel or other professional fees.
If you do not accept that an invoiced fee is fair and reasonable you must notify us within 10 days of receipt, failing which you will be deemed to have accepted that payment is due.
We will only assist with implementation of our advice if specifically instructed and agreed in writing.
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.
If any provision of these terms, our letter of engagement or schedules of services is held to be void, then that provision will be deemed not to form part of our contract and the remainder of this agreement shall be interpreted as if such provision had never been inserted.
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.
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. Where relationships break down, it is your responsibility to explain how this may impact the nature of our communication with you/your business.
Investment business is regulated under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and the Financial Services Act 2012.
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 Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority or licensed by a Designated Professional Body as we are not authorised to give such advice.
In so far as 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.
We will provide our services with reasonable care and skill. Our liability to you is limited to losses, damages, costs and expenses caused by our negligence or wilful default.
We will not be liable if such losses, penalties, surcharges, interest or additional tax liabilities are due to the acts or omissions of: other parties outwith our control; circumstances beyond our control; or the discovery of fraud.
You have agreed that you will not bring any claim of a kind that is included within the subject of the limit against any of our principals/directors/members or employees; on a personal basis.
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. It may not be used or relied upon for any other purpose or by any other person other than you without our prior written consent. A party to this agreement is the only person who has the right under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 to enforce any of its terms.
If our advice is disclosed to any third party (with or without our consent), then we accept no responsibility or liability to that third party for any consequences that may arise to them, should they rely on the advice.
If it is proposed that any documents or statement which refer to our name are to be circulated to third parties, please consult us before they are issued.
In accordance with the Proceeds of Crime Act, The Terrorism Act, Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 you agree to waive your right to confidentiality to the extent of any report made, document provided or information disclosed to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
You also acknowledge that we are required to report directly to the NCA without prior reference to you or your representatives if during the course of undertaking any assignment the person undertaking the role of Money Laundering Reporting Officer becomes suspicious of money laundering.
As with other professional services firms, we are required to have appropriate risk based policies and procedures for assessing and managing money laundering risks: this applies at the start of any business relationship and through the lifetime of the relationship. This includes undertaking appropriate customer due diligence. We may request from you, and retain, such information and documentation as we require for these purposes and/or make searches of appropriate databases. If we are not able to obtain satisfactory evidence of your identity, we will not be able to proceed with the engagement.
Copies of such records created as part of the client due diligence process, including any nonengagement documents relating to the client relationship and ongoing monitoring of it, will be retained by us for a period of five years after we cease to act for the business unless we are required to retain them under statutory obligation, or to retain them for legal proceedings, or you consented to the retention in which case the records will be retained for not more than 10 years.
Unless otherwise agreed in the engagement covering letter our work will begin when we receive your implicit or explicit acceptance of that letter. Except as stated in that letter we will not be responsible for periods before that date.
Each of us may terminate this agreement by giving not less than 21 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.
In the event of termination of this 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.
If you engage us for a one-off piece of work (for example advice on a one-off transaction or preparation of a tax return for one year only) the engagement ceases as soon as that work is completed. The date of completion of the work is taken to be the termination date and we owe you no duties and we will not undertake further work beyond that date.
Where recurring work is provided (for example ongoing compliance work such as the completion of annual tax returns) the engagement ceases on the relevant date in relation to the termination as set out above. Unless immediate termination applies, in practice this means that the relevant termination date is:
- 21 days after the date of notice of termination; or
- a later agreed date.
We owe you no duties beyond the date of termination and will not undertake any further work.
We will observe and act in accordance with the by-laws, regulations and ethical guidelines of the professional institutions of which we are members and will 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.
In accordance with our professional body rules we are required to hold professional indemnity insurance. Details about the insurer and coverage can be found at our offices.
We aim to provide a high quality of service at all times. If you would like to discuss with us how our service could be improved or if you are dissatisfied with the service that you are receiving please let us know by contacting David Nicholls, Partner.
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.
You have a legal responsibility to retain documents and records relevant to your tax affairs. During the course of our work we may collect information from you and others relevant to your affairs. We will return any original documents to you if requested. Documents and records relevant to your 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, LLPs and other corporate entities
- 6 years from the end of the accounting period;
Whilst certain documents may legally belong to you we may destroy correspondence and other papers that we store, electronically or otherwise, which are more than 7 years old. You must tell us if you require the return or retention of any specific documents for a longer period.
You should retain documents that are sent to you by us as set out in the privacy notice, which should be read alongside these terms and conditions.
The services we undertake to perform for you will be carried out on a timescale to be determined between us on an ongoing basis.
The timing of our work will in any event be dependent on the prompt supply of all information and documentation as and when required by us.
This page was last updated in May 2018.