Blowing the whistle: do accountants know about their duty?

Our story last week reported on concerns that reporting accountants are not complying with their duty under the Solicitors Accounts Rules (SAR) to blow the whistle on solicitors.

The duty under the SAR kicks in if the accountant discovers evidence of fraud or theft, or receives information giving them “reasonable cause to believe is likely to be of material significance” in determining whether a solicitor is a fit and proper person to hold client money.

The story came from the annual conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales’ solicitors group, held in London. The conference was repeated in Manchester today, and Ian Smith, who chairs the group, has reported to Legal Futures that Solicitors Regulation Authority investigations manager John Mercer told the event that just 11 reports have been made in the past year.

Speaking last week, both Mr Smith and Mr Mercer suggested that this was most likely down to a lack of education about the provision.

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