GENERAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Terms and Conditions
1 Who may instruct us
You confirm that you, and any other person you nominate from time to time are authorised to give us instructions and information on behalf of all persons we are acting for and to receive our advice and documents on their behalf.
2 You and your spouse/partner
If we are acting for you and your spouse/partner, we will advise you and your spouse on the basis that you are a family unit with shared interests. We may deal with either of you and may discuss with either of you the affairs of the other. If you wish to change these arrangements please let us know.
3 Know your customer
We may be required to verify your identity for the purposes of the anti-money laundering laws. We may request from you such information as we require for these purposes and make searches of appropriate databases.
4 Your responsibilities
You must provide us with all information necessary for dealing with your affairs including information which we reasonably request, in sufficient time to enable our services to be completed before any applicable deadline. We will rely on such information being true, correct and complete and will not audit the information.
You authorise us to approach such third parties as may be appropriate for information we consider necessary to deal with your affairs.
You must keep us informed on a timely basis of changes in your circumstances that may affect our services.
5 Qualifications on our services
To the extent our services involve the performance of services established by law, nothing in an engagement letter or these terms reduce our obligations under such law. You must not act on advice given by us on an earlier occasion without first confirming with us that the advice is still valid.
Our services are limited exclusively to those you have engaged us to perform. Unless otherwise specified in an engagement letter, our services cannot be relied upon to disclose irregularities and errors, including fraud and other illegal acts, in your affairs.
Where our engagement is recurring, we may amend an engagement letter and these terms where we consider it is necessary or appropriate to do so. If you do not accept such amendments, you must notify us promptly in which case you may terminate our engagement in accordance with section 18 below and those amendments will not apply prior to such termination.
6 Reliance on advice
We will endeavour to record all advice on important matters in writing. Advice given verbally is not intended to be relied upon unless confirmed in writing. If we provide verbal advice that you wish to rely on, you must ask us to confirm the advice in writing.
7 Investment and financial advisory advice
We will not provide you with investment or financial advice regulated under the Corporations Act (2001) (Cth).
8 Professional Obligations
We will comply with the professional and ethical standards of the Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board, available at apesb.org.au. This includes APES110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including Independence Standards), which among other things contains provision that apply if we become aware of any actual or potential ‘non-compliance with governing laws or regulations’ (NOCLAR). Where any such non-compliance poses substantial harm (such as serious adverse consequences to investors, creditors, employees, auditor, group auditor or the public), we may be required to disclose the matter to an appropriate authority.
9 Conflicts of interest
We will inform you if we become aware of any conflict of interest in our relationship with you (including between the various persons an engagement letter covers) or in our relationship with you and another client. Where conflicts are identified which cannot be managed in a way that protects your interests then we will be unable to provide further services to some or all of the persons to whom this engagement applies. If this arises, we will inform you promptly.
We may act for other clients whose interest are not the same as or are adverse to yours, subject to the obligations of conflicts of interest and confidentiality referred to above.
10 Fees and payment
Our fees will be charged on the basis set out in an engagement letter or in the case of no engagement letter, as agreed, and have been set based on the level of skill, responsibility, importance and value of advice, as well as the level of risk. If we have provided you with an estimate of our fees for any specific work, it is an estimate only and our actual fees may vary.
We may provide a fixed fee for the provision of specific services. If it becomes apparent to us, due to unforeseen circumstances, that a fixed fee is inadequate, we may notify you of a revised figure and seek your agreement to it.
Our invoices are due for payment within 7 days of issue. Our fees set our in our engagement letter are exclusive of GST which will be added to our invoice where it is chargeable. Any disbursements and expense we incur in the course of providing our services will be added to our invoices where appropriate.
Unless agreed to the contrary, our fees do not include the costs of any counsel, or other professionals or third parties engaged with your approval.
If your fee is not paid within the agreed timeframe, you will be responsible for the costs incurred by us to engage a debt collector.
We will take all reasonable steps to keep your information confidential, except where:
we need to disclose your information to our service providers or regulatory bodies in performing the services, our professional advisers or insurers or as part of an external peer review from time to time. Our files may also be subject to review as part of the quality review program of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. By accepting this engagement you acknowledge that, if requested, our files relating to this engagement will be made available under this program. We will take reasonable steps to ensure any such recipient (other than a regulatory body) keeps such information confidential on the same basis;
we are required by law, regulation, a court of competent authority, or those professional obligations referred to in section 8 above, to disclose the information, or
you give us permission to disclose the information.
We may retain your information during and after our engagement to comply with our legal requirements or as part of our regular IT back-up and archiving practices. We will continue to hold such information confidentially.
We may mention that you are a client for promotional purposes.
13 Ownership of materials
We own the copyright and all other intellectual property rights in everything we create in connection with this engagement. Unless we agree otherwise, anything we create in connection with this agreement may be used by you only for the purposes for which you have engaged us.
All working papers prepared by us (in any form whatsoever, including physical and electronic) remain our property. We will retain these papers in accordance with our normal record keeping practices in accordance with our professional and legal obligations.
You agree we can use your logos and trademarks for the sole purpose of providing advice to you in connecting with the engagement, unless you tell us otherwise.
14 Limitation of liability
Our liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.
You agree not to bring any claim against any of our principals or employees in their personal capacity.
To the maximum extent permitted by law, we are not liable to you for:
Indirect, special or consequential losses or damages of any kind; or
Liability arising due to the acts or omissions of any other person or circumstances outside our reasonable control, or your breach of these terms.
15 Limitation of third party rights
Our advice and information is for your sole use, and we accept no responsibility to any third party, unless we have expressly agreed in the engagement letter that a specified third party may rely on our work.
Each of us may terminate the agreement by giving not less than 21 days’ notice in writing to the other party except where a conflict of interest has arisen, you fail to cooperate with us or we have reason to believe that you have provided us or any other person with misleading or factually inaccurate information, in which case we may terminate this agreement immediately. Termination will not affect any accrued rights.
You must advise of any changes to your contact details. We may send any communication to the last contact details you have provided. Unless you instruct us otherwise we may, where appropriate, communicate with you and with third parties via email or by other electronic means. Your tax file number and other personal data may be included in an email transmission. The recipient is responsible for virus checking emails and any attachments. There is a risk of non-receipt, delayed receipt, inadvertent misdirection or interception by third parties in any form of communication, whether electronic, postal or otherwise. We are not responsible for any such matters beyond our control.
If any provision of an engagement letter or these terms is void, that provision will be severed and the remainder will continue to apply. If there is any conflict between the engagement letter and these terms, these terms prevail.
19 Disputes and complaints
If you have any concerns about our costs or services, please speak to the Principal. To resolve your concerns we have policies and procedures in place to deal appropriately with complaints and will use best endeavours to resolve a complaint or dispute to the mutual satisfaction of the parties involved. We may require you to details your complaint in writing to allow us to fully investigate any concerns your raise.
We may utilise the services of third parties from time to time. To perform the services, we provide these third parties with access to your data to the extent that is required to perform the services.
21 Cloud computing
Hot Octopus operates on a paperless basis, meaning that we store your records electronically. In addition to our own IT infrastructure, we may use offsite email storage, online banking facilities, and online and cloud based accounting systems and documents including but not limited to the Tax Agent Portal, ASIC portal, Quickbooks Online, Xero and associated apps including Notud, Annature and FYI Doc, MYOB, Cashflow Manager, Onvio, OneDrive and Microsoft365, Dropbox and Content Snare. The cloud storage facilities and IT servers operated by the providers may be located outside of Australia. By engaging our services, you give consent that your information may be provided and stored using these systems to provide our services to you.
While we make every effort to maintain data stored in these platforms securely, no computer system is free from risk of data breach. Accordingly, as part of these terms you agree to indemnify and release Hot Octopus from all claims for damages arising from the use of cloud-based storage and accounting services arising or resulting from the provision of our services to you.
21 Taxation Engagements
In respect of taxation engagements, please be advised that:
the responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the particulars and information provided by you rests with you, the taxpayer
any advice given to you is an opinion only based on our knowledge of your particular circumstances
as a taxpayer, you have obligations under the self assessment system to keep full and proper records in order to facilitate the preparation of accurate income tax returns.
You give us permission to link to the ATO using your name/TFN/ABN and date of birth.