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Insolvency regulations and standards

Insolvency is a regulated profession and insolvency practitioners must meet certain standards. They must comply with the law, statements of insolvency practice (SIPs), the Code of Ethics and ICAEW’s insolvency regulations. We also issue guidance to assist insolvency practitioners.

The insolvency licensing regulations and guidance notes set out the eligibility requirements for obtaining an insolvency licence from ICAEW and the ongoing obligations placed on licensed insolvency practitioners. 

Statements of insolvency practice (SIPs)

SIPs are a series of guidance notes issued to licensed insolvency practitioners with a view to maintaining standards by setting out required practice and harmonising practitioners’ approach to particular aspects of insolvency.

SIPs are issued under procedures agreed between the insolvency regulatory authorities acting through the Joint Insolvency Committee (JIC). They are approved by the JIC and adopted by each of the regulatory bodies listed in the introduction of each SIP.

Insolvency guidance papers (IGPs)

Insolvency Guidance Papers (IGPs) are issued to insolvency practitioners to provide guidance on matters that may require consideration in the conduct of insolvency work or in an insolvency practitioner’s practice.

Unlike SIPs, which set out required practice, IGPs are purely guidance and practitioners may develop different approaches to the areas covered by the IGPs. IGPs are developed and approved by the Joint Insolvency Committee, and adopted by each of the insolvency authorising bodies.

Insolvency compliance review

Insolvency practitioners licensed by ICAEW are required to conduct compliance reviews on at least an annual basis. Annual insolvency compliance includes a review of internal controls and systems, and cold file review of insolvency work.

A well conducted review will provide assurance to practitioners that they are complying with the regulations and statutory obligations on a regular basis and will also highlight areas where they can improve the efficiency of their business.

The following helpsheets and checklists give guidance on how you can comply with our requirement to carry out an annual insolvency compliance review. There's also a planning and strategy memo proforma for you to document the rationale for your case selection and review strategy.

Our personal and corporate insolvency checklists may be useful when you review your formal appointments or as part of your insolvency compliance review. They're not an exhaustive statement of the law and best practice but they give staff with insolvency experience the key areas to consider.

Templates for routine case reviews

We suggest IPs and their staff carry out a review shortly after appointment to check that the immediate post-appointment issues have been dealt with and that case diaries have been correctly set up. You may find this template useful.

We also suggest IPs carry out regular ongoing reviews, for example, at six-monthly intervals, to ensure that cases are being moved forward and that all key issues are being, or have been, dealt with. You may find this template useful.

Both these review templates are designed to give a snapshot of the case. They highlight some key compliance issues but do not include the level of detail that you need to consider when you carry out your ICR. They are not designed to be used for carrying out your insolvency compliance review. They are primarily designed to be used when administering cases, to identify the key issues and to confirm they are being addressed.

Continuing professional development

ICAEW requires all its insolvency licence holders to continue to develop their expertise and professional skills. Our aide memoire will help you fulfil that requirement.

There's no requirement to complete a specific amount of ‘structured’ CPD (ie, attendance on courses). Instead, insolvency licence holders are expected to plan their own programme of development activities to enable them to ensure that they have the knowledge and expertise to fulfil their role and responsibilities as an insolvency practitioner.

ICAEW members are required to provide an annual declaration of CPD compliance for each year ending on 31 October. The declaration asks members to confirm that they have reflected on their responsibilities, undertaken appropriate learning and development activities as necessary, and considered the impact of those activities, on an ongoing basis.

If you're an insolvency affiliate licence holder, you don't have to provide an annual declaration but you're still required to keep a record of all CPD you have undertaken.

To help you plan your CPD, we've produced an aide memoire of recent insolvency-related technical changes.

Insolvency annual return and monitoring

We conduct insolvency monitoring visits to all ICAEW appointment-taking insolvency practitioners.

Joint Insolvency Committee

The Joint Insolvency Committee (JIC) is made up of eight representatives from each of the recognised professional bodies and from the Insolvency Service and the Insolvency Service, Northern Ireland. The committee has appointed three lay members. The committee meets four times a year. Between meetings, the business of the committee is progressed via conference call or by sub-groups.

The committee is a forum for the discussion of insolvency issues and standard setting. It develops, improves and maintains insolvency standards from a regulatory, ethical and best practice perspective. It has responsibility for the development and revision of Statements of Insolvency Practice (SIPs - see section above) and insolvency guidance papers (IGPs - see section above) and it comments on legislation. JIC promotes consistency across the profession.

Membership of JIC

The membership of JIC is as follows:

  • Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board (Chartered Accountants Ireland)
  • The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales
  • The Law Society of Scotland
  • Insolvency Practitioners Association
  • Solicitors Regulatory Authority
  • The Insolvency Service
  • The Insolvency Service, Northern Ireland
  • Association of British Insurers (lay member)
  • Institute of Credit Management (lay member)
  • HM Revenue and Customs (lay member)
  • Joint Insolvency Committee newsletters
  • The JIC publishes updates of the committee's activities through periodic newsletters. Recent publications can be accessed here:
Consultations on SIPs and insolvency Code of Ethics

Open consultations

SIP 11 - the handling of funds in formal insolvency appointments

Closes 12 September 2017

Consultations that have closed:

  • Insolvency Code of Ethics - closed 25 July 2017 
  • SIP 15 - closed 12 September 2016
  • SIP 13 - closed 11 May 2016
  • SIP 9 - closed 4 September 2015
  • SIP3 - CVA - closed 7 January 2014
  • SIP 3A - Trust deeds - closed 19 April 2013
  • SIP 3 - IVA (England and Wales) - closed 14 May 2013
  • SIP 16 - pre-packaged sales in administrations - closed 14 May 2013