When considering the position laid out by the Supreme Court, accountants need to be aware and careful of the fact that their clients may believe that any advice given will be covered by legal professional privilege, when in fact it may not be.
Any advice given may well have to be passed on to HMRC, which for the business or client could have consequences.
'Mission creep' is also something that accountants need to be wary of.
Where the professional finds them self giving advice that was not covered by the original instruction.
It is certain that accountants are much more aware of this than in other professions, however they still need to be mindful of it for any activities conducted under the Legal Services Act 2007.
If as an accountant, you find yourself straying from carrying out 'legal activities' into what is known as 'reserved legal activities', it could spell disaster for the accountant and the client as well.
It is imperative that accountants still make certain that the scope of the engagement has clarity, and is plain, and that retainer letters with clearly defined parameters and instructions are issued for each engagement.
This is especially important if the accountant is conducting several different tasks for a client.
Not only does this provide clarity and protection for the accountant, it can be easily referred to by the client later and so minimise the risk of any disputes occurring between client and accountant.
Furthermore, it is the responsibility of an accountant to make certain that their insurers know of any type of work that the accountant is undertaking.
The accountant must ensure that 'mission creep' does not lead to accountants providing advice under the 'reserved legal activities' which they are in fact not authorised to give, as it is highly likely that the accountant does not have the correct insurance arrangements to cover such advice.
If the client decides at some point that they wish to make a claim or a complaint, it would be most unfortunate if the accountant hears back from their insurers and finds that they are not covered.
All practitioners should review their insurance to ensure that they are covered for whatever work they are undertaking, and they should be wary to step outside of that cover.