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Professional Defence Solicitors for Accountants
If you are an accountant being investigated by either the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), our professional defence solicitors can provide you with advice and assistance throughout proceedings.
Our team has advised and represented many accountants who have been accused of professional misconduct by taking all the evidence into account and building a strong defence case to obtain the best possible outcome for you.
If your matter is urgent, our solicitors can be reached by using our 24-hour legal helpline on 0800 804 8186.
How JMW Can Help
The professional defence solicitors at JMW can provide advice and representation in the following areas:
- Initial referral to the ACCA/ICAEW
- During investigations conducted by the ACCA/ICAEW
- Responding to the ACCA/ICAEW
- During disciplinary committee hearings
If you have been accused of committing a criminal offence, our team can help you through investigation proceedings by providing advice at the police station, preparing your defence ahead of a trial, and representing you in court.
We offer a thorough and pragmatic service designed to ensure that you are properly guided through investigation proceedings. Our team will provide clear, practical advice to help you understand your options at each stage of the process and make sure you have a strong defence.
The solicitors at JMW understand the impact that an investigation can have on your professional and personal life, and will do our utmost to resolve your case with the best possible outcome.
Investigations Carried Out by the ACCA
The ACCA takes disciplinary action against accountants that have displayed a lack of the professionalism expected of them. Complaints deemed appropriate for investigation will be handled by an investigating officer. For serious or complex complaints, the matter may be investigated by a senior investigations officer.
An accountant accused of professional misconduct will be informed of a complaint in writing. Upon receipt of a notification, those accused have a duty to cooperate with an investigation; however, it is vital that you seek legal guidance at this stage to ensure you provide a reasonable response to a complaint. This might include providing relevant evidence in response to the complaint.
Once all evidence has been obtained, the ACCA will consider the evidence and decide whether further action should be taken. Investigations will usually be completed within six months of allocation to an investigating officer.
Possible outcomes of an investigation include:
- Closing a complaint where there is insufficient evidence
- Closing a complaint but attaching it to the accountant’s file for a period of five years
- Preparing a report of disciplinary allegations to be considered by an independent assessor
An independent assessor will decide whether the case should be referred to a disciplinary committee. If your case is referred to a disciplinary committee, it is advisable that you attend the hearing - we can provide representation during a hearing. At the conclusion of hearing the disciplinary committee has the following powers:
- Take no action
- Reprimand or admonish a member
- Impose a fine not exceeding £50,000
- Order a member to pay no more than £1,000 in compensation to the complainant
- Make a member waive or reduce their fees to the complainant by a specific sum
- Exclude the accountant from membership
After proceedings have concluded, ACCA will send a written notice detailing the reason for the disciplinary committee’s decision. The notice will contain information on your right to apply, including a deadline for applying for permission to appeal.
Investigations Carried Out by the ICAEW
A complaint raised to the ICAEW will be assessed to see if it condones an investigation, which will be carried out by an experienced and qualified case manager. Once you receive notification of a complaint from the ICAEW, you should seek legal advice to ensure that you give a full and prompt response.
An investigation involves gathering information from the complainant and the accused accountant and making a decision whether disciplinary action is appropriate. Investigations can take anything between three months to a year, depending on the circumstances of the case.
If action is required, the case will be referred to the investigation committee - complex and serious cases will be handled by the disciplinary committee. An investigation committee will look into whether there is a case to answer. If there is, it can:
- Take no further action
- Invite the member to accept an unpublicised caution, which will be included on the accountant’s record
- Invite the member to consent to an order, e.g. a reprimand, fine or cost
- Refer the complaint to the disciplinary committee
When a case is referred to the disciplinary committee, hearings will be held in public unless the tribunal has agreed to a private hearing. If the disciplinary committee finds the case to be proven, the following penalties can be imposed:
- A fine
- Removal of a practising certificate
- Exclusion from membership of the ICAEW
Appeals against the disciplinary committee’s decision can be made within 28 days after a decision is made.
Talk to Us
If you are facing investigation by the ACCA or the ICAEW, our solicitors are here to defend you. Contact us by calling 0800 652 5559, or by filling in our online enquiry form and letting us know a suitable time to get in touch.