Whistleblowing is when an individual raises a concern about a danger, risk, malpractice or wrong doing within an organisation. The concern may be raised internally or externally.
Accountants in business or practice may have statutory or contractual obligations to report to a regulator or other third party or to SOCA under the Anti-Money Laundering requirements. They may also whistle-blow to a third party where it would be in the public interest to do so, even they have no legal obligation to do so. This right is discussed in the Guidance Statement Professional conduct in relation to defaults or unlawful acts.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 was introduced to protect individuals making disclosures in the public interest and to allow such individuals to claim compensation for victimisation following such disclosure.
Guidance issued by ICAEW in May 2014. This replaces TECH 16/99 Receipt of Information in Confidence by Auditors which has been withdrawn.
The government believes that more should be done to encourage and protect whistleblowers and in July 2013 asked for submissions from interested parties to see how the law could be strengthened to provide more protection and encouragement. In June 2014 BIS published its response. BIS made a series of recommendations but the only legislative change that it proposed was that prescribed persons should produce an annual report on disclosures received. This is to be enacted via the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. Student nurses were also added to the list of workers protected under the legislation.
Support and guidance is available to members dealing with issues around whistleblowing, from the following sources: