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Home > News and Publications > The Bank’s use of external auditors and law firms since 1850

The Bank’s use of external auditors and law firms since 1850

Subject/Request details: The Bank’s use of external auditors and law firms since 1850.
Date Released: 6 February 2012
The Bank of England (‘the Bank’) first employed an external auditor in 1919, Deloitte, which became Deloitte Haskins & Sells in 1952.  In 1990 the Bank was audited by Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte following a merger between Deloitte Haskins and Sells (UK) and Coopers and Lybrand.  In 1993 Coopers & Lybrand were the Bank’s auditors, after Deloitte was dropped from the firm’s name, and in 1998 Coopers & Lybrand merged with Price Waterhouse to become PricewaterhouseCoopers, who were then the Bank’s auditors from 1999 onwards.  In 2006 KPMG Audit plc was appointed as the Bank’s external auditors. 
Turning now to law firms, it was the Bank’s practice in 1850 and for many years thereafter to appoint an individual lawyer rather than a law firm as such as the Bank’s ‘attorney and solicitor’.  Based on some research we have conducted in the Bank, the following individuals held that office from 1850, in some cases the office was held on a joint basis:  J Freshfield (1840-57);  C Freshfield (1840-70); H Freshfield (1857-77); W D Freshfield (1869-1903);  E Freshfield (1869-1918);  E H Freshfield (1892-1921); Sir W H Leese (1916- 1937?).  Following the death of Sir William Leese, no successors were formally appointed as the Bank’s ‘Attorney and Solicitor’.  The Bank maintained a close connection with the firm of Freshfields after the Second World War, but worked increasingly with an ever-widening range of law firms and barristers, as and when necessary. Since 1992 the Bank has had its own in-house legal department and much of the Bank’s legal work has been handled in-house.  During the last 20 years or so the Bank has worked with a vast number of different law firms and external counsel in the UK and overseas in relation to individual transactions, projects or matters.  For further information about the Bank’s early association with Freshfields I would recommend: ‘A history of Freshfields’ by Judy Slinn, 1984, ASIN B000FCSA50.