Representing Clients in Difficult Situations Conference 2021

This conference is being run in conjunction with Bond Solon and will bring together a range of speakers to help firms deal with the personnel, ethical, compliance and legal issues when there is a dispute between the client and the firm and between individuals in a client business. The conference will also look at issues surrounding preparing, reviewing and presenting evidence in a court or adversarial context.



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Full conference agenda

Simon Mason

It is a hazard of professional life, including that of accountants, that mistakes are made. If and when mistakes occur it is essential that these are taken seriously, and dealt with properly and professionally. How one reacts after making a mistake can (if one acts appropriately) mitigate any problems and maintain relationships; failing to act correctly can make matters a great deal worse. This session will cover:

  • Recognition – what to do, and who to turn to, when you realise a mistake has been made
  • Consideration of obligations to, and best practice for dealing with, the client or former client
  • Consideration of obligations to third parties
  • Dealing with clients' / former clients' / third parties' requests for documents held by the accountant
  • Overview of how a civil claim is likely to be dealt with
  • Overview as to how a disciplinary complaint is likely to progress

David Norris

When clients fall out with you or other parts of the business, it can lead to pressure from some parties to provide information to, and support the opinions of, one side or the other.

This session will remind the those attending who their clients are, what rights to documents they have and consider practical ways firms can retain their role as trusted advisor in these difficult situations.

Simon Jelf

Accountants may find themselves having to value client’s business interests when Partnerships or LLPs break up, whether arising from the departure of one or more partners or the dissolution of a partnership. Simon is an experienced barrister who specialises in all aspects of partnership and LLP law, with particular reference to professional and trading partnerships. His session will cover:

  • What is a partnership share
  • What the agreement provides for and what to do in the absence of an agreement
  • Valuing goodwill and recognising work in progress
  • The relevance of book values and when assets should be re-valued
  • What happens in partnership disputes

John Sharkey

Our ability to influence and negotiate with others are key personal and business skills. They are especially valuable in the context of dealing with difficult situations arising with or between clients. This session will highlight the areas to focus on when having to deal with such challenging situations.

  • Getting your mindset and approach right at the outset
  • The importance of planning and preparation
  • Understanding the other parties’ positions, interests, needs and wants
  • Avoiding compromise and achieving a ‘win-win’ outcome
  • Alternatives to a negotiated settlement

Simon Jelf

Good written evidence is vital in helping promote early settlement of civil cases and success at trial in criminal cases. Too often accountants’ statements and reports prepared for court proceedings lack clarity, credibility and objectivity. This session will cover:

  • Identifying the issues to be addressed in statements/reports
  • Using a structured approach to preparation and writing
  • Identifying the source and weight of evidence
  • Insulating written evidence against cross-examination
  • Layout and formalities
  • Handling supporting information
  • Using contemporaneous notes as the basis for the statements/reports
  • Getting your message across
  • Developing an objective and critical eye in relation to written evidence

Simon Jelf

Accountants may be required to give evidence in courts and other legal forums in both a professional and expert witness capacity. A poor performance can undermine confidence and credibility. It can also adversely affect your client’s case. This practical session will cover:

  • An overview of how the court system works
  • The role and duties of the expert and professional witness in court
  • Key skills of presenting effective evidence
  • Techniques lawyers use in cross-examination and how to handle them
  • How to give confident, clear testimony under cross-examination
  • A mock cross-examination exercise

Conference speakers

David is the Support Products & Services Director. He joined SWAT UK in 2000 as an audit lecturer and reviewer, having qualified as a Chartered Accountant with South West firm Thomas Westcott. In 2014, David was appointed to the board of SWAT UK as Training Director and then moved to the board of Mercia when the companies merged in 2016. At this point he took over responsibility for Peer Reviews, Technical Queries and Manuals, with a remit to ensure the products and services remain technically correct, while also being practical and relevant to firms of all sizes. David also retains a lot of client contact and performs a large number of lectures and review visits, both throughout the country and online.

John is a senior consultant within Mercia's Management Training Division. For over 20 years, John has been helping professional firms to increase profitability through more efficient and effective working practices by harnessing the untapped potential of their people and delivering service excellence to their clients.

Since joining the Mercia consultancy team in 1998 he has helped build Mercia's Management Training Division into one of the leading providers of management and personal skills consultancy to the independent accountancy sector. His presentations are renowned for their energy, enthusiasm and practical relevance and for challenging participants.

One Day Conference