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Accounting firm ordered to pay client $3.3m in costs

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
25 February 2019 1 minute readShare
Federal Court of Australia

A prominent accounting and business advisory firm has said that it plans to appeal a Federal Court decision to award more than $3 million in costs to a former client that it was found to have deceived over an accounting error.

On 21 December 2018, Pitcher Partners was ordered by the court to pay its former client, Neville’s Bus Service, which trades as Busabout, just under $5.5 million as “damages for deceit”.

The accounting firm was deemed to have made an error in a significant government tender on behalf of its client, one which is costing the bus company $660,000 each year.

A partner overseeing the Busabout account at Pitcher Partners was also found to have actively deceived the client by attempting to cover up the error once it was discovered.

The Federal Court said that the conduct was deceptive, negligent and had breached consumer laws.

In a subsequent hearing on the matter of costs, dated 21 February 2019, the Federal Court awarded Neville’s Bus Service a further lump sum of $3,366,388, contributing towards a total loss facing the company, including interest, of $5,632,844.

The costs payout and damages combined amount to a payout of more than $8.8 million.

Pitcher Partners did not challenge the make-up of the losses in court, but subsequently confirmed to My Business via a spokesperson that it will appeal the judgement against it.

“Pitcher Partners has lodged an appeal against the Federal Court decision,” it said, but declined to comment further.

Accounting firm ordered to pay client $3.3m in costs
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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