PracticeAccounting FirmsPwC faces £200,000 negligence claim

PwC faces £200,000 negligence claim

Big Four firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is facing a High Court claim for damages for negligence brought by Kathleen Kuys, former marketing director of auctioneers Phillips.

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She claims the firm’s advice will cost her more than £200,000 in capital gains tax, interest and penalties she had hoped to avoid by emigrating to Portugal.

She believed she would avoid tax liabilities on the sale of shares by moving out of the UK, but later discovered the firm’s advice was incorrect, according to a High Court writ.

Now Kuys is suing the accountancy firm for damages of more than £200,000.

Kuys took out a bank loan to buy 62,500 shares in Phillips, costing £78,125 three months before Phillips was sold to LVMH Moet Hennessy.

She was advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Newcastle office, which had been brought in to advise directors on the anticipated sale of their shares, and also retained the firm to advise on her personal tax situation, the writ says.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Robert Blagojevic told her she could receive LVMH shares in exchange for some of her Phillips shares, and sell some for cash or loan notes, and said that with loan notes, no capital gains tax liability would arise until or until she disposed of the shares, and her liability could be avoided if she left the UK and moved to a country with a more favourable tax system.

He told her the decision had to be taken quickly, and left her alone for around ten minutes on November 1 1999, the writ says.

But she was emailed by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Paul Fava on March 6 2001, who told her for complex reasons, because the shares had been issued by a holding company instead of a subsidiary, she would have to pay capital gains tax of £153,085.

Kuys says her precise tax liabilities are still to be finalised but believes she owes £137,319, as well as interest and penalties.

She argues the firm was negligent and in breach of duty in advising her, wrongly told her capital gains rollover relief would be available, and failed to provide her with adequate and competent advice.

The firm also failed to prepare a draft tax return for the year ended April 2000 until March 2002, she says.

The writ was issued by solicitors Manches.

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