Access without notice – law and accounting firms
We can access the premises of a law or accounting firm without notice. Before doing so, we undertake a risk assessment to decide whether it is appropriate to notify the firm of our intended visit (though not of the name of any taxpayers of interest). A designated senior officer needs to approve this assessment before we seek access.
If we decide to give notification, we attempt to notify the principal or the managing partner of the firm or, if they are not available, another partner or senior employee.
- advise of the number of our officers who will be attending the firm
- advise of our points of contact
- provide as much additional information about our visit as practicable – but the names of taxpayers of interest will not be disclosed
- ask for the primary contact (and alternative contact) details for the visit.
If we give notification of our visit, it will usually be at least one business day before the access visit. In exceptional circumstances, we may require urgent access and will give as much advance notification as is practicable.
We expect to work with the primary contact person, and generally require them to:
- meet us at the specified date and time or, if unavailable, ensure that a suitable person is available to meet and is appropriately briefed
- brief other senior persons within the firm who need to be informed
- organise the facilities required for the access visit, including a suitable meeting room and access to a photocopier
- advise where files may be located at an offsite archive facility, and put the facility area on standby
- arrange for legal and other advisers to be available to make and resolve any claim that the documents are protected by legal professional privilege, the accountants' concession or the corporate board advice concession
- arrange for the availability of IT specialists to help us access electronic records.
Offsite archiving facilities
We may need to access files, documents and other information held by a law or accounting firm at an offsite storage or archiving facility. If so, we will generally consult with that firm’s nominated representative to minimise disruption at the facility.
We will work with the representative to develop a workable protocol to retrieve and review the files or documents we need. This approach may allow for:
- the management of claims for legal professional privilege, the accountants' concession and the corporate board advice concession
- early access to the files or documents for which no claims are made.
We will provide your nominated representative with a reasonable opportunity to review the files and documents we wish to access, and make claims to restrict access where appropriate.