Sunday, April 20, 2008

Look out England - poorly regulated Scottish accountants are on the march to ruin your financial affairs

The long standing application from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland for their members to be able to work in England has recently been passed by the Ministry of Justice in London.

So look out folks in England & Wales - you might just get accountants such as Norman Howitt, a luminary at ICAS who has a great record of ruining wills and probate work ....

You can read more about how Scottish accountants such as Norman Howitt are deadly in their handling of wills & probate work here : Borders Accountant Norman Howitt identified in Cherbi Executry case

We here at Scottish Law Reporters wouldn't encourage the use of Scottish accountants to handle wills & probate work based on that incident .. and many others like it we hear have never been properly investigated by ICAS ...

The Scotsman reports :

Scots accountants win right to compete with lawyers for work south of border

By Nathalie Thomas

SCOTTISH accountants have won the right to undertake probate work in England and Wales in a move that breaks up a service previously monopolised by the legal profession.

The move is viewed as the first step towards 'Tesco law', where consumer groups argue businesses from accountancy firms to supermarkets should be allowed to sell legal advice. Members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) have been granted permission to carry out probate work.

The Ministry of Justice in London has approved applications by ICAS and also the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to offer this kind of work to clients south of the border. ICAS will this week apply to the Lord President of the Court of Session in Scotland to offer the same services in Scotland.

The move will allow qualified chartered accountants to compete with lawyers, notaries and barristers for wills and probate work, a domain that has for centuries been dominated by the legal profession alone.

Although ICAS and ICAEW still have to wait for approval from Westminster, they expect the move to create a new income stream for accountants.

Vivienne Muir, executive director of regulation and compliance at ICAS, said it will also improve consumer choice.

She said: "ICAS members gaining these rights is a move which we believe will benefit consumers as it increases choice. In gaining probate rights in England and Wales, we have had to satisfy strict criteria relating to training, expertise and consumer protection. We believe that CAs (accountants trained by ICAS] with their knowledge and experience of taxation and trust affairs are well qualified to deliver similar services in Scotland."

The Scottish Consumer Council is expected to back ICAS's application in Scotland as it is thought it will lead to lower prices for consumers.

ICAS's application falls just weeks before the Law Society of Scotland is due to reveal its hand over multi-disciplinary practices, where lawyers would be able to go into business with accountants, chartered surveyors and other financial services professionals.

Multi-disciplinary practices are likely to resemble one-stop shop businesses where consumers and business clients can access va
rious services under one roof.

The society's president, Richard Henderson, has been asked to submit recommendations to Holyrood about MDPs and other alternative business structures after the Office of Fair Trading argued last summer that the legal profession in Scotland should be opened up to greater competition.

The OFT was triggered into action by a 'super-complaint' from consumer group Which? arguing that the restrictive market in Scotland limits consumer choice and may have led to higher prices.

But the debate has divided the legal sector, with leading Scottish law firms speaking out on both sides.

A spokesman for the Law Society of Scotland said Henderson will publish his policy paper in the next couple of weeks. It will then be debated by members at the society's annual general meeting on May 22 before final recommendations are submitted to the SNP Government

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