Accountants cautioned on offshoring traps

Accountants looking to offshore work have been cautioned by a law firm about their privacy obligations regarding the exchange of client information.

Jaime Lumsden Kelly, solicitor at The Fold Legal, warned accountants they must take reasonable steps to ensure clients are aware of where their information will be sent.

“There are particular requirements that apply if you will be disclosing information to overseas recipients,” Ms Lumsden Kelly said.

“Not only do you have to tell the client who you’re going to disclose it to and the fact that that person is overseas, but you have to take reasonable steps to make sure that the person you disclose it to overseas won’t breach privacy protections."

Accountants who pass on information to overseas organisations that subsequently breach privacy protections will themselves be liable for the breaches, according to Ms Lumsden Kelly.

She added that accountants would benefit from ensuring the overseas body is already compliant with a regime that is “broadly equivalent to the Australian one”.

The Australian Privacy Principles, which came into force last year, replacing the preceding National Privacy Principles, established guidelines for keeping clients abreast of their information.

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