State Board Report

June 2009

When Oklahoma took steps to clarify disclosure of confidential communications in an attorney‐client relationship, the state also spelled out accountant‐client privilege and the circumstances under which it would and would not apply. Oklahoma’s HB 1597 was signed by Governor Brad Henry on May 22, 2009.

The legislation says, in part: “A client has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent any other person or entity from disclosing, the contents of confidential communications with an accountant when the other person or entity learned of the communication because the communications 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.”

The privilege can be claimed by: the client; the guardian or conservator of the client; the personal representative of a deceased client; the successor, trustee or similar representative of a corporation association or other organization; or by the person who was the accountant at the time of the communication on behalf of the client. However, there is no accountant‐client privilege when the services were sought or obtained to aid anyone to commit a crime, or in other circumstances as detailed in a new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 2502.1 of Title 12.

Ohio’s Senate Bill 80, which would amend Section 2317.02 of the Revised Code to create an accountant‐client testimonial privilege, was reported out of committee on May 7, 2009. The bill is being sponsored by 13 of the Ohio Senate’s 33 members. The Bill still has to go to the House. Included in the legislation is the specific provision that the accountant‐client testimonial privilege “is not affected by an accountant’s participation in a peer review.”

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