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Charles Phipps

Accountants, Auditors & Actuaries

Charles is regularly instructed to act for both claimants and defendants in accountant's negligence cases concerning liability for, among other things, audit services and tax advice. He was editor of the chapter on accountants in Jackson & Powell’s Professional Liability Precedents (Sweet & Maxwell, loose-leaf).

He was instructed on behalf of the liquidators of BCCI in the audit litigation against Price Waterhouse and Ernst & Whinney (as they then were), at that time the largest accountant's negligence claim ever to have been brought. The litigation eventually settled, following a successful appeal against an order striking out large parts of the claim in which he was led (with Adrian Beltrami (now QC)) by John Powell QC: BCCI (Overseas) Ltd (in liquidation) v Price Waterhouse [1998] Lloyd's Law Rep (Banking) 85.

Other more recent cases in which he has been instructed include:

  • a claim against a firm of accountants in respect of their alleged failure to provide an adequate expert’s report (Baker Tilly v Makar [2009] EWHC 1715 (QB));
  • a claim by a further education institution against its auditors for failing to detect substantial defalcations by a trusted member of staff over a lengthy period of time; 
  • a claim by a commercial property investment company against its accountants for failing to advise it of its right to claim capital allowances in respect of its expenditure (amounting to several million pounds) on plant and machinery; 
  • a claim against a firm of accountants arising out of fraudulent investment advice given by one of its partners; 
  • the defence by a firm of accountants of an action alleging negligent advice relating to CGT liabilities arising on the disposal of the majority shareholding in a restaurant chain; 
  • the defence by a firm of accountants of an action alleging negligent conduct resulting in the avoidance of business interruption insurance cover;
  • the defence by a firm of accountants of an action alleging negligence advice in relation to the winding-up of a partnership;
  • a claim against a firm of accountants by beneficiaries under a will alleging negligence in the course of their retainer by the deceased;
  • the defence by a firm of accountants of an action alleging negligent reporting under the Solicitors’ Account Rules, resulting in thefts from the office and client accounts of a firm of solicitors;
  • the defence by a firm of accountants of a claim alleging negligent tax in relation to a company’s PAYE and NIC liabilities;
  • the defence by an insolvency practitioner of negligent conduct of the claimants’ IVAs;
  • the defence by a liquidator of a claim made by the directors of an insolvent company.