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Retention Of Ex-Client Information.

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RocW | 18:59 Mon 26th Feb 2024 | Business & Finance
12 Answers

I had my own accountancy practice until the middle of 2022, when I retired.  I had the company struck off in January 2023. Over the years in practice, I built up client files containing Statutory and Management accounts, tax returns, Confirmation Statements etc. The clients always had copies of these.  I am now trying to clear up space and wonder if I need to keep any of these files - and if so, for how long. I always used to have an annual purge of files that were more than six years old but I am not sure that I need to keep six years' worth of data.  All the ex- clients are now with other accountants and I have supplied to each of them all the answers and information required by a professional letter.  Any ideas would be gratefully receved.



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I thought the legal minimum was seven years.

Can you just transfer them onto a pen drive as a precaution

I would keep your records until this time next year and let your exes know that your intention is to delete the information as of 05.04.25 and to let you know if they want you to keep their info. This would be more client acceptable and put you in a good light...

In the meantime, buy a big paper shredder or a garden incinerator.

Before I give an in-depth answer let me make you aware of my fees.

I would do as newmodarmy says and keep them for at least 6 years – that way you won’t suffer a breach of personal data, and will have records lasting for as long as someone could legally make a financial claim against you.

Sorry... when you said clear up space I thought you meant computer disk space. As they seem to be paper records then do as DtC suggests. You could ask them if they want the hard copies.

seems clear to me.

HMRC generally requires that accounting records are held for six years from the end of the last company financial year they relate to.

Medical records ( yeah OK I know...) forever if under 21 otherwise ten years and electronic records in perpetuity

BUT Dame jarnet over Shipman found Pontefract notes had not been kept. He had been a houseman there. an SHE said: I will give you 20 ( deaths caused by Dr S) 40 is a bit of a stretch.  And Counsel replied "I am grateful to your ladyships indulgence. 20 it is!"

Meadows - child protection - he destroyed child protection in one go. All the doctors said "Ok we wont do it: someone else can" - HE testified that he had shredded ALL his files on retirement. The secretary took three days! And the GMC said oh boo-hoo that screws your defence doesnt it?  ( struck off)

My MD - we really didnt get on after I referred him to the GMC - wrote to me on retirement instructing me to destroy all the records I had. I did. And kept multiple copies of his letter.


5 years after the 31 January relevant tax year 

But who has to retain the records for six years?  The retired accountant or the client?

That should be in the T&Cs of the signed contract/agreement

Question Author

Thanks to all who replied.  I have all the electronic files backed up to an external system and it's the paper that I want to dispose of.  I already have a powerful shredder. I think that writing to my ex-clients is a good idea.  I am on good terms with all of them; some of them have become good friends over the years.  Redhelen is right.  The Ts&Cs should cover it but unfortunately the standard Letter of Appointment doesn't. Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else.

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