Kevin Reed, Accountancy Age, Thursday 15 July 2010 at 10:31:00

ICAEW argues in Prudential appeal that advice provided by accountants is the same as lawyers, and therefore accountants' clients should benefit from legal profesisonal privilege

There is no distinction between the advice accountants give out on tax compared with lawyers, the ICAEW argued in court yesterday in its battle to win professional privilege for tax advisers.

The ICAEW appeared before the Court of Appeal in the Prudential case yesterday, where the insurer previously lost its argument against HM Revenue & Customs that tax advice received from its accounting advisers should be confidential under legal professional privilege, the same as solicitors.

Charles Flint QC, representing the ICAEW told the court you "can't distinguish between the two".

"They are performing the same function in the same context," argued Flint.

"Advice on tax is advice on law. What qualification gives accountants room to advise on law? It's the study of taxation. The institute has the overriding interest of acting in the public interest."

Flint said there was no ground for a distinction between the quality of advice between that set in terms of training between chartered accountants and lawyers.

The court will hear from the Law Society today, expected to argue that privilege should be retained by the legal profession.

The hearing continues today.

Further reading:

Vital "professional privilege for accountants" case back at High Court