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Government Agency Promotes Accountants as Competition Law Experts

The Law Society has hit out at a plan by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to encourage accountants to advise their clients on law.

The CMA today published information which it says will help accountants ensure their clients are complying with competition law.

The body said that as accountants are trusted advisers for businesses of all sizes, they are ‘well placed’ to provide this sort of guidance.

But in response the Law Society said that specialised lawyers rather than accountants should provide legal advice.

A spokesman for the Law Society said: ‘Accountants provide valuable advice to businesses in the specific area of accountancy, but when it comes to the law, a specialised business solicitor can help identify legal problems and advise on what steps to take to prevent problems before they happen, which will protect businesses from risk and save money.’

To help accountants, the CMA has produced a ’60-second summary’ after working with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).

The document explains what competition law is, why businesses might be at risk, and how to look out for anti-competitive behaviour. It also provides pointers on how accountants can familiarise themselves with common competition law risks and advises accountants to inform clients of any signs that competition law has been broken.

The guide says accountants should encourage their clients to seek legal advice if they are concerned they may be in danger of breaking the law.

Judith Frame, head of compliance at the CMA, said that research shows that many businesses, particularly smaller ones, could benefit from having a stronger understanding of how competition law affects them.

‘We hope [the summary] will help accountants put competition law on their clients’ radars to help them avoid risks, and to benefit from competition.’

[Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette]