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What do you understand by Auditor’s Lien?

What do you understand by Auditor’s Lien?

What do you understand by Auditor’s Lien?

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Jeeba Mar. 06, 2018

Any person who has the legal possession of other's property for the non payment of due for the work done on the property.

An auditor can exercise lien on books and documents placed at his possession by the client for nonpayment of fees, for work done on the books and documents.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has expressed a similar view on the following conditions:

(i) Documents retained must belong to the client who owes the money.

(ii) Documents must have come into possession of the auditor on the authority of the client. They must not have been received through irregular or illegal means. In case of a company client, they must be received on the authority of the Board of Directors.

(iii) The auditor can retain the documents only if he has done work on the documents assigned to him.

(iv) Such of the documents can be retained which are connected with the work on which fees have not been paid.

Under section 128 of the Companies Act, 2013, books of account of a company must be kept at the registered office. The company provides reasonable facility to auditor for inspection of the books of account by directors and others authorised to inspect under the Act. Taking an overall view of the matter, it seems that though legally, auditor may exercise right of lien in cases of companies, it is mostly impracticable for legal and practicable constraints. His working papers being his own property, the question of lien, on them does not arise.


Documents prepared by the professional accountant solely for the purpose of carrying out his duties as auditor belong to the professional accountant.

It is also clear that the accountant’s correspondence with his client belong to the accountant. In the case of Chantrey Martin and Co. v. Martin, it was also held that the correspondence between the accountant and the taxation authorities with regard to the client’s accounts and tax computations was the property of the client since the accountant merely acted as agent of the client.

However, where the accountant communicates with third parties not as an agent, but as a professional man, e.g., as an auditor, the correspondence with third parties would seem to belong to the accountant. According to the statement, where an auditor obtains documents confirming the bank balance or confirming the custody of securities of the client or other similar documents, it is probable that the courts would hold that these documents belong to the auditor.

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