Disclaimer: My this article is just the expression of my personal view point, it nowhere is connected or disrespects the latest verdict of Hon’ble Delhi High Court and the Council of ICAI regarding misconduct on the part of the professional in recovering fees by threatening the client.
We all as dignified professional, with utmost sincerity and perseverance do discharge our professional duties. We have commanded our fields and we do perform our duty to the best of our efforts, but somehow I feel, that our fraternity fails to collect the professional fees which is our legitimate right.
We are ethically bounded persons and with all due respect our Institution also assures the same, and there is no doubt that we cannot and should not do something which is ethically wrong but I have noticed that if something wrong happens with us than we have no one to protect us, than this ethics stands as a wall against our right.
If a CA has performed services, charged legitimate/reasonable fees and if the payment is not done than what protection does that CA has? If we all after 17th of October (tax filing is over) spare few days to see our arrears of professional fees than we all might come up to the conclusion that if recover the said arrears than whatever, we would be earning in coming 1-2 years all will be compensated.
Every professional in the first instant does issues the bill and asks for payment with full courtesy and politely but even after several reminders when that professional doesn’t gets any response than what is expected from him. If a professional asks payment for the information that he has of client than that is absolutely unjustifiable but if the client can make payment to his/its staff, various department personals(who actually threaten to do wrong) than why not to a professional, who has actually served the client in true sense?
Is it possible for every professional to drag every client in the legal action?
We don’t have the concept of advance fees/progress bill payment in our profession. Majority of the professional advices we give absolutely free and with the advent of sms, whatsapp, mails etc this free services are being increased day and night.
Is the profession of doctors not noble? I think it is the most noble profession. As soon as anyone goes to a doctor, first at the counter the fees has to be paid before taking consultancy. Patients even fighting with fatal diseases and being at the most crucial stage of life has to first in advance pay the fees. From hospitals, one is not discharged unless the entire fees is paid. But can we ever in our rarest of rare dream think about doing that?
A CA if after audit keep the books of the clients and if he refuses to give them unless the fees is paid than that will be a biggest misconduct by him, ethics committee will come in and neither we as CA ourselves because of the professional standards we live upto will think about it.
But, why don’t we incultivate in us the culture that as soon as we will give the acknowledgement of ITR, Audit reports, assessment/appeal orders/etc the payment has to be done.
If we have ethics committee to see that nothing wrong we do, than why don’t we have fees recovery committee, wherein if a Client even after several years is not clearing dues can be taken into comfortably.
I know my this suggestion will be just laughed upon but seeing the scenario prevalent and the in- capabilities of ours in getting our legitimate fees, I think a fees recovery committee could be set up at all branch levels. Certain norms can be specified, so that every CA with every client is not approaching the committee. But I truly feel that if clients do unethical practice than there should be a suitable, approachable and convenient forum at local level where we can also take the client.
If proper measures are not taken to protect ourselves than clients can easily get the work done and switch over to another CA. What will previous CA do, just either take legal action (which is not feasible in every circumstances ) or to write off the bad debts.
Irony but the truth is that our CA fraternity stands to protect and save the client but we for ourselves or for our fraternity members seldom do it and therefore we have such mountains of professional fees arrears. With all due respect to the recent Hon’ble Delhi High Court decision and the council decision, in my opinion if a CA has honestly performed his/her duty and if he/she is not getting reasonable /legitimate professional fees even after several reminders than why should he/she be expected to maintain and safeguard the dignity of this profession and be honest with the clients when clients have not shown any honour to the services rendered. If we have proper forums to protect the professionals than no professional would like to lower the standard of the profession. If a CA is held guilty of Professional misconduct than if misconduct is being done to a CA than that should also be protected.
I know many will not agree with my aforesaid view points but we all can agree to disagree.