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2012 Florida Statutes

SECTION 316
Communications between the accountant and client privileged.
F.S. 473.316
473.316 Communications between the accountant and client privileged.
(1) For purposes of this section:
(a) An “accountant” is a certified public accountant.
(b) A “client” is any person, public officer, corporation, association, or other organization or entity, either public or private, who consults an accountant with the purpose of obtaining accounting services.
(c) A communication between an accountant and her or his client is “confidential” if it is not intended to be disclosed to third persons other than:
1. Those to whom disclosure is in furtherance of the rendition of accounting services to the client.
2. Those reasonably necessary for the transmission of the communication.
(d) A “quality review” is a study, appraisal, or review of one or more aspects of the professional work of an accountant in the practice of public accountancy which is conducted by a professional organization for the purpose of evaluating quality assurance required by professional standards, including a quality assurance or peer review.
(e) A “review committee” is any person or persons who are not owners or employees of an accountant or firm that is the subject of a quality review and who carry out, administer, or oversee a quality review.
(2) A client has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent any other person from disclosing, the contents of confidential communications with an accountant when such other person learned of the communications because they were made in the rendition of accounting services to the client. This privilege includes other confidential information obtained by the accountant from the client for the purpose of rendering accounting advice.
(3) The privilege may be claimed by:
(a) The client.
(b) A guardian or conservator of the client.
(c) The personal representative of a deceased client.
(d) A successor, assignee, trustee in dissolution, or any similar representative of an organization, corporation, or association or other entity, either public or private, whether or not in existence.
(e) The accountant, but only on behalf of the client. The accountant’s authority to claim the privilege is presumed in the absence of contrary evidence.
(4) There is no accountant-client privilege under this section when:
(a) The services of the accountant were sought or obtained to enable or aid anyone to commit or plan to commit what the client knew or should have known was a crime or fraud.
(b) A communication is relevant to an issue of breach of duty by the accountant to her or his client or by the client to her or his accountant.
(c) A communication is relevant to a matter of common interest between two or more clients, if the communication was made by any of them to an accountant retained or consulted in common when offered in a civil action between the clients.
(5) Communications are not privileged from disclosure in any disciplinary investigation or proceeding conducted pursuant to this act by the department or before the board or in any judicial review of such a proceeding. In any such proceeding, a certified public accountant or public accountant, without the consent of her or his client, may testify with respect to any communication between the accountant and the accountant’s client or be compelled, pursuant to a subpoena of the department or the board, to testify or produce records, books, or papers. Such a communication disclosed to the board and records of the board relating to the communication shall for all other purposes and proceedings be a privileged communication in all of the courts of this state.
(6) The proceedings, records, and workpapers of a review committee are privileged and are not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal process or to introduction into evidence in a civil action or arbitration, administrative proceeding, or state accountancy board proceeding. A member of a review committee or person who was involved in a quality review may not testify in a civil action or arbitration, administrative proceeding, or state accountancy board proceeding as to any matter produced or disclosed during the quality review or as to any findings, recommendations, evaluations, opinions, or other actions of the review committee or any members thereof. Public records and materials prepared for a particular engagement are not privileged merely because they were presented during the quality review. This privilege does not apply to disputes between a review committee and a person subject to a quality review.
History.ss. 15, 25, ch. 79-202; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 10, 11, ch. 85-9; s. 1, ch. 91-63; s. 26, ch. 91-140; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 350, ch. 97-103; s. 15, ch. 2009-54.