Members who are solicitors may have seen the ‘Guidance for solicitors advising on tax’ issued on 24 August 2020 by the Law Society. It states that
‘….. solicitors that are subject to the PCRT because they are members of one of the signatory professional bodies should therefore comply with the obligations and duties required by the SRA and covered in this guidance in priority over the PCRT.’
When PCRT was drafted the professional bodies involved were alert to challenges that members who were also solicitors and barristers might face if the professional rules of solicitors or barristers and those imposed by PCRT were to conflict. A much discussed example was the barristers’ cab rank rule. The approach adopted is set out in 1.6 of PCRT.
‘Nothing in PCRT overrides legal professional privilege. Similarly, nothing in PCRT shall override a member’s professional duties or be interpreted so as to give rise to any conflict under general law, statutory regulation, or professional regulation of solicitors or barristers, and in the event of any conflict general law, statutory regulation or such professional regulation shall prevail. For these purposes a conflict shall be considered to arise at least where such law, statutory or such professional regulation to which members are subject would prevent compliance with what would otherwise be required by PCRT.’
Members who are also solicitors or barristers need to bear in mind that, being subject to more than one professional code, if one code imposes a higher standard of behaviour than another, the requirements of the code imposing the higher standard must be fully adhered to. Section 1.6 is there to protect solicitor and barrister members if there is a risk of conflict between the two requirements, but it does not protect them more widely if they fail to adhere to the higher standard. They should ensure they are familiar with PCRT and the supporting help sheets which give practical advice and guidance in the following areas:
PCRT Help sheet A: Submission of tax information and Tax filings
PCRT Help sheet B: Tax Advice
PCRT Help sheet C: Dealing with errors
PCRT Help sheet C2: Dealing with errors - members in business *New*
PCRT Help sheet D: Request for data by HMRC
PCRT Help sheet E: Members’ Personal Tax Affairs
If you are in any way uncertain of your obligations please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.