Sauce for the Goose

An astonishing audit result has reached us. It involves national “celebrity” Appeals and Reviews lawyer Mark Newby of QS Jordans, Doncaster. (They are happy for me to give you my take on the case). I, as you all know, could go on for hours but I won’t, so lets cut to the chase.

Following verbal and written representations and a formal, failed ICA appeal, Jordans sent an LBA threatening JR proceedings. We assisted with all of these and with the Point of Principle application made at the same time as the LBA.

Yesterday the LAA “withdrew” the audit decision and the (worthless) Contract Notice issued in this regard.

The key rationale for this was stated as:

“Having considered these points in full …. we agree that paragraph 11.26 and the “6 month rule” relates to previous Advice and Assistance matters and not previous representation cases”.

They also suggest that they had previously identified this as an area requiring clarification – I am, at the very least, skeptical about this assertion. I will explain why but first lets get technical.

2010 SCC Specification 11.26 is not the only issue raised in this audit and is one of the least ambiguous sections of the A&R specification. Frankly it does not require clarification rather the LAA should undertake an honest and objective review of how it could possibly have been misinterpreted in the first place. Such a review should focus on its audit teams, their managers and the ICA’s. The review should also question why this was so given their criminal extensions team based in Nottingham has always properly understood this section of contract.

Because here’s the thing, the “foreword” of Jordans proposed PoP came from representations penned by yours truly in the summer of 2014. These have also been subject to the steely sub-editing pen of Mr Andrew Keogh, on at least 2 previous occasions and by Jordans estimable Counsel, Matt Stanbury, in this application.

The essential interpretation of the A&R specification this foreword presented has however remained consistent throughout this period. Consequently the LAA have had a number of occasions on which to consider this precise point but have failed to do so. Furthermore the same interpretation, with which they now agree, has been previously been rejected by ICA’s and turned back at the LAA controlled gateway to PoP certification. In short the LAA, contrary to what they say to Jordans, have not self-identified this as an issue. Rather they have had it brought to their attention on at least 2 occasions, the first well over a year ago, and have had ample opportunity to clarify and consult on new guidance. They have obviously had numerous points in the present case to do likewise. Ultimately they have only been prepared to do so when threatened with litigation. The deceit in this and the attitude it demonstrates seems obvious to me – we will get away with recouping as much as we can, by fair means or foul, for as long as we can.

When you make a single “mistake” on audit what follows? That’s right interminable rounds of self-verification and re-audit. Given the unambiguous resolution to this case there seems one, obvious conclusion; they must now revisit and “self verify” every audit containing an A&R file conducted in the last 6 years.

About Author: SP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *