Richard Nelson LLP’s regulatory solicitors are experienced in defending and advising accountants in ICAEW disciplinary cases. Whatever stage of the investigation you’re currently in, contact us with the form on the right to get advice on how to proceed.
ICAEW standards & complaints
The stated aim of the ICAEW is to ensure that chartered accountants are meeting the highest ethical and technical standards. The ICAEW is keen to maintain the reputation of the profession, to protect the title ‘chartered accountant’, to uphold standards and protect the public.
The ICAEW has a Code of Ethics which applied to all members, students, affiliates and employees of member firms. The code focuses on 5 fundamental principles: integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care, confidentiality and professional behaviour.
The ICAEW receives complaints from a variety of sources including clients, public authorities and fellow members. The Professional Conduct Department investigates complaints and first assess whether there are grounds for the complaint under their bye-laws and whether the member may need to face disciplinary action.
The investigation process may take 6-12 months depending on the complexity of the situation. During the investigation process, the member will be invited to provide written comment on the allegations. This is a crucial stage in the investigation, as up to 50% of cases can be closed at this stage, when a member is able to demonstrate that there has not been any misconduct. Our regulatory lawyers can assist an ICAEW to prepare a written response to an allegation to ensure that the response is persuasive and achieves the best possible outcome.
ICAEW disciplinary actions
If a complaint is regarded as being sufficiently serious and relates to a member’s conduct, then it is referred to the Investigation Committee. The committee evaluates the complaint privately, considering relevant documentation including written representations from the member. The Investigation Committee then decides whether there is a case for the member to answer. If not, then, subject only to a potential review, the matter is closed.
If the Investigation Committee does find that there is a case for the member to answer then they can take one of the following disciplinary actions:
- Take no further action;
- Invite the member to accept an unpublicised caution;
- Invite the member to consent to a reprimand, fine and costs; or
- Refer the complaint to the Disciplinary Committee.
The latest statistics demonstrate that more than 50% of the cases considered by the Investigation Committee are resolved by an agreed caution or consent order for a reprimand, fine and costs. The more serious cases are however referred to the ICAEW’s Disciplinary Committee.
It is essential that the written representations for the Investigation Committee are written objectively and clearly. It must either persuasively setting out either that there is no misconduct, or where there have been failings, demonstrating appropriate remediation, co-operation, insight and remorse with an objective of achieving an outcome short of a referral to the Disciplinary Committee.
ICAEW Disciplinary Committee
In an ICAEW disciplinary hearing, the Disciplinary Committee considers formal complaints referred by the Investigation Committe. At the hearing, the Disciplinary Committee hears evidence, legal representations from both sides and will make decisions regarding the factual circumstances. If the allegations are found proven, then the committee will impose a relevant penalty, hearing further legal submissions regarding what the appropriate penalty should be.
The ICAEW publishes a sanctions guidance, which sets out the sort of issues that the Disciplinary Committee may take into consideration when deciding what penalty to impose. Click here to read this guidance.
The penalty imposed can include a fine, reprimand or exclusion. In addition, there are a number of ancillary orders which can be imposed, such as taking specific advice from a specified source, a waiver or return of fees, the repayment of a commission, and payment of the Institute’s costs including their investigation costs.
Decisions made by the Disciplinary Committee can be appealed to the Appeal Committee if the appeal is made within 28 days of the hearing.
How our solicitors can help
Our defence lawyers for accountants are experienced at assisting accountants with investigations by the ICAEW. We can advise and guide you through the process, ensuring that at each stage you maximise the possibility of preventing the complaint from going any further and achieving the best possible outcome.
Please contact our team today, for confidential legal advice regarding a regulatory investigation by the ICAEW.
Get in touch
For more information about the services we can provide and about how we can help you and your business, contact us.
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What we do...
Our solicitors can support you at every stage of the ICAEW disciplinary process. Our services include:
- Advice and guidance throughout an investigation;
- Defending you in an ICAEW disciplinary hearing if necessary;
- Provision of advice and representation, where necessary, in an appeals process.
If this isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, our other accountancy law services include: