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Professional liability

The standards that govern professional services provided by accountants and lawyers are complex and evolving. Should you, as a company or individual, become the focus of litigation or regulatory investigations, it is vital to be able to turn to a legal team that understands your profession and is experienced in defending it.

Broad base of experience defending accountants and lawyers across industries and jurisdictions

For more than 30 years, Eversheds Sutherland’s Professional Liability practice has represented international accounting and law firms in hundreds of matters, ranging from routine third-party discovery to complex, multi-jurisdictional lawsuits and regulatory actions. We pride ourselves on providing high-quality advice and a cost-effective service. We strive for efficient, favorable resolutions, but we also have a strong track record of taking cases to trial and winning.

Our team has represented accounting firms in jurisdictions including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Our U.S. regulatory experience on behalf of accounting firms includes such organizations as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Department of Justice, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, state and federal agencies, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and state boards of accountancy.

We are well-versed in the range of challenges that can face your business. We have defended accounting firms with respect to nearly every category of professional service, including audit and assurance, tax, actuarial matters, and consulting. These cases have involved a wide cross-section of industry sectors including retirement and pension plans, mortgage-backed securities, sub-prime lending, banking, oil and gas, healthcare, insurance, construction, manufacturing, distribution, retail, real estate limited partnerships and computer software.

We also represent law firms in a variety of disputes, ranging from legal malpractice and fraud actions to securities arbitrations and claims under workers’ compensation statutes.

Our range of services for lawyers and accountants includes:

  • AICPA, PCAOB and state licensing board proceedings
  • False Claims Act
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
  • internal investigations
  • investigations and litigation brought by bankruptcy trustees, receivers and creditors
  • jury trials, bench trials and arbitrations
  • malpractice and professional negligence claims
  • negligent misrepresentation and fraud claims
  • regulatory investigations
  • securities fraud class actions
  • state and federal RICO actions

Recent professional liability experience

  • Defending a Big Four accounting firm in a number of negligent misrepresentation and professional negligence lawsuits arising from the bankruptcy of the firm’s audit client, which was formerly one of the largest privately held mortgage originators in the United States. Prior to trial, the cases were resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties
  • Representing a Big Four accounting firm in a series of related matters including a $350 million accountants' liability class action, various derivative shareholder claims, a bankruptcy-related adversary proceeding, and accompanying regulatory investigations related to audit work performed for a national jewelry store chain. The class action and adversary proceedings were settled on favorable terms and no regulatory action was pursued.
  • Defending a major international law firm in civil litigation alleging that the firm aided and abetted a Ponzi scheme involving sales of more than $60 million in business opportunities. A putative class of investors in the scheme and a receiver for the defunct former client also brought claims including professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. On motion, the federal court dismissed all class claims. The parties later resolved the former client's claims.
  • Representing a former Arthur Andersen partner in a broad array of litigation and investigations arising from the collapse of Enron Corporation, including several class-action lawsuits, regulatory enforcement investigations, grand jury proceedings and state licensing boards. Drawing on the skills of partners in several practice areas, we achieved satisfactory results for our client in a high-profile, politically charged representation.
  • Defending a US national law firm against claims by one of its former clients, who alleged that the firm took on an adverse representation when the firm added lateral attorneys. We obtained summary judgment on multi-million dollar damages claims and summary judgment on an injunctive relief claim that sought to disqualify the firm from hundreds of cases.

Contact our professional liability team

If you would like any further information or need advice on professional liability law, please contact our legal team.

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