Accountants in public practice generally want to help their clients. Some accountants will do anything for their clients, even break the law. The most common way this occurs is when accountants start preparing legal documents for their clients. The penalty for engaging in unqualified legal practice is two years imprisonment.
Not all accountants are aware that under the Legal Practitioners Act the preparation of legal documents is reserved to persons with the requisite legal qualifications. This may be due to the fact that any person can prepare their own legal documents or even enlist the support of a friend or acquaintance (however unwise this course of action may be).
Accountants cross the legal line when they expand their services to include the preparation of documents such as Constitution, Powers of Attorney, Contracts, Partnership and other Agreements. This is the case even if the work merely consists of filling in blank spaces in duplicated or printed forms.
As unqualified legal practice is not a ‘Public Accounting Service’ the provision of legal services will not be covered by the accountant’s professional indemnity insurance.