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Important issues with engagement letters

Solicitor Karen Eckstein analyses common issues with engagement letters and scope of retainer, using a detailed practical example to illustrate her points.

RetainersHaving dealt with claims against accountants and tax advisers for three decades, and now dealing with risk issues, the first thing I do is ask for the engagement letter to see what evidence there is of the retainer between the adviser and the client.

In my view, the engagement letter is not the contract between the parties – it is the evidence of the contract. A contract can exist without a letter being signed. But it is harder to define the terms, and as can be seen later in this article, the adviser may fall foul of the Consumer Contracts Regulations, as well as cause other issues if there isn’t a paper trail to show the actual terms of the contract and that the client has agreed them.