Version 7 of the Handbook was published on 1 April 2013. For more information, please click "History" above.
The accountant must complete and sign his or her report in the form published from time to time by the SRA. An explanation of any significant difference between liabilities to clients and client money held, as identified at section 4 of the report, must be given by either the accountant or you.
The current form of accountant's report appears at Appendix 5.
The form of report is prepared and issued by the SRA to firms at the appropriate time for completion by their reporting accountants. Separate reports can be delivered for each principal in a partnership but most firms deliver one report in the name of all the principals. For assistant solicitors, consultants and other employees, see rule 32, guidance notes (vii) and (viii).
An incorporated practice will deliver only one report, on behalf of the company and its directors, or on behalf of the LLP and its members - see rule 32.1.
Although it may be agreed that the accountant send the report direct to the SRA, the responsibility for delivery is that of the firm. The form of report requires the accountant to confirm that either a copy of the report has been sent to each of the persons (including bodies corporate) to whom the report relates, or a copy of the report has been sent to a named partner on behalf of all the partners in the firm. A similar confirmation is required in respect of the directors of a recognised body/licensed body which is a company, or the members of a recognised body/licensed body which is an LLP.
A reporting accountant is not required to report on trivial breaches due to clerical errors or mistakes in book-keeping, provided that they have been rectified on discovery and the accountant is satisfied that no client suffered any loss as a result.
In many practices, clerical and book-keeping errors will arise. In the majority of cases these may be classified by the reporting accountant as trivial breaches. However, a "trivial breach" cannot be precisely defined. The amount involved, the nature of the breach, whether the breach is deliberate or accidental, how often the same breach has occurred, and the time outstanding before correction (especially the replacement of any shortage) are all factors which should be considered by the accountant before deciding whether a breach is trivial.
Accountants' reports should be sent to the Information Directorate.
For direct reporting by the accountant to the SRA in cases of concern, see rule 35 and guidance note (i) to that rule.