Professional Standards committees
Our professional conduct and regulatory committees support the operation of the Professional Standards department. The department is responsible for developing, maintaining and supporting high standards of practice and professional conduct.
Serving on a Professional Standards’ committee
Each Professional Standards’ (professional conduct or regulatory) committee has an equal or majority number of lay members (someone who is not / never been a member, affiliate or employee of ICAEW or any other accountancy body). This ensures we carry out our role of maintaining the highest professional and ethical standards within the accountancy profession in a proportionate, accountable, consistent, transparent and focused manner.
Our recruitment process for the rest of our committees (particularly for lay members) usually takes place in December / January each year. Please note: all vacancies advertised in December 2019 have been filled.
What do we mean by a lay member?
An individual who is not and never has been a member, affiliate or employee of ICAEW or any other accountancy body. To enhance public confidence in the regulatory process, further relevant restrictions may be appropriate for each committee. Preference is given to individuals who are users of accountancy services.
Recruitment of ICAEW members for committees
We are always keen to hear from ICAEW members with expertise in audit, probate, insolvency, tax and any other relevant areas of practice who would like to serve on our professional conduct and regulatory committees. If you have the experience to help us maintain and support high standards of practice and professional conduct and would like to serve on one of our committees, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please forward your CV and an expression of interest for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each committee meets between three and twelve times a year. Pre-reading and preparation ahead of each meeting is required. Meetings usually take place at Chartered Accountants’ Hall, London. Travel expenses to and from meetings are reimbursed for all committee members.
The following committees are responsible for regulatory matters:
- The Audit Registration Committee
- The Investment Business Committee
- The Insolvency Licensing Committee
- The Probate Committee
These committees oversee the application process for registration to practise in the regulated areas of audit, investment business, insolvency and probate and then monitor compliance with regulatory requirements.
The Review Committee allows members or firms to ask for a review of certain decisions made by one of the four committees above.
The following committees are responsible for disciplinary matters. Once a complaint has been received, they decide whether an offence has been committed and, if so, what penalties, if any, should be imposed.
- The Investigation Committee considers complaints and, if it decides there is a case, it can among other things offer a consent order to settle the matter or refer the matter to the Disciplinary Committee.
- The Disciplinary Committee hears cases referred to it by the Investigation Committee and has similar powers to the Investigation Committee. In addition, it can exclude members from membership or prohibit a firm from using the description ‘Chartered Accountants’.
- The Fitness Committee was introduced following changes to the Disciplinary Bye-laws. It meets as a panel; each panel comprises two lay members (one of which chairs the panel) and one accountant. Its primary role is to decide if an ICAEW member is fit to participate in disciplinary proceedings. Panels also consider applications from individuals who wish to register as provisional members (ACA students) where applications disclose potential fitness issues, such as previous criminal convictions. The panels also considers applications for readmission to membership. Membership of the Fitness Committee, is drawn from the members of the Disciplinary Committee.
The Appeal Committee hears appeals from either the Review Committee or the Disciplinary Committee.
In order to achieve a clear separation of responsibility for policy making and enforcement, members of the ICAEW's council are not appointed to serve on any of these committees.
Find out more about the Professional Standards committees
Panels of the Appeal Committee considers appeals against decisions made by the Re-admissions Sub-Committee, tribunals of the Disciplinary Committee and panels of the Review Committee.
The committee consists of 12 members – at least half of who must be lay members. Panels of the committee are appointed to hear appeals. Panels are made up of two professional members, two lay members and a legally qualified chairman. Hearings take place in London at Chartered Accountants’ Hall, or at the International Dispute Resolution Centre.
On average, a panel member may be asked to sit on a panel up to three times a year.
Meetings usually start at 10:30 and panel members are asked to keep the whole day free. The length of hearings vary depending on the number and complexity of the appeals to be considered.
Audit Registration Committee
The Audit Registration Committee (ARC) is responsible for undertaking ICAEW’s responsibilities as a recognised supervisory body under the Companies Act 2006. The committee consists of at least eight members - a minimum of two are lay members. At present there are four lay members. The main work involves reviewing Quality Assurance Department (QAD) reports on visits to firms, the firms’ responses to the reports and deciding if any regulatory action is needed. The committee also deals with new applications to become a registered auditor and considers complaints against firms in the regulated area of audit.
There are usually 11 meetings a year, approximately once every five weeks, at Chartered Accountants’ Hall in London and the meetings last about three hours.
Time is required to read the agenda papers before each meeting; this can take up to three hours.
As well as formal meetings, groups of members meet to deal with matters that do not require the attention of the full committee. These meetings take place on the day of the full committee meetings, before and after the main meeting. Members would probably attend six such meetings a year.
The Disciplinary Committee considers complaints against members and member firms.
The committee consists of at least 14 members – at least half of who must be lay members. It meets in tribunals of three; two lay members and one professional member. An independent legal assessor sits with the tribunal to give any legal advice that may be required but does not take part in making the decision.
Meetings are usually held three times a month in London, either at Chartered Accountants’ Hall or at the International Dispute Resolution Centre.
A committee member may be asked to sit on a tribunal up to six times a year.
Meetings usually start at 10:30 and tribunal members are asked to keep the whole day free. Meetings normally finish at around 17:00, but the length of meeting varies depending on the number and complexity of the cases to be considered.
Panels of the Fitness Committee are convened to consider, certain applications for readmission to membership from former members and from student members who wish to become provisional members, but have criminal convictions or other adverse findings recorded against them. Panels also determine whether the subject of a complaint is fit to face disciplinary proceedings. The membership of the Fitness Committee is the same as the Disciplinary Committee.
Insolvency Licensing Committee
Under the Insolvency Act 1986, ICAEW is a recognised professional body and the Insolvency Licensing Committee (ILC) carries out certain regulatory responsibilities. The main work involves reviewing Quality Assurance Department (QAD) reports on visits to insolvency practitioners (IPs), responses to these reports and deciding if any regulatory action is needed. The committee may need to consider other information to satisfy itself that IPs remain fit and proper to be licensed. The committee also deals with new applications for an insolvency licence, and considers complaints against IPs in the regulated area of insolvency.
The committee consists of at least eight members - a minimum of two are lay members.
The ILC generally meets monthly at Chartered Accountants’ Hall in London and meetings normally last about two to three hours.
Time is required to read the agenda papers before each meeting; this may take two or three hours. Some committee business may be dealt with by email.
The Investigation Committee considers complaints against members and firms in relation to a wide range of matters. The committee has the power to impose unlimited fines and direct the firm to pay costs. For the most serious cases the matter will be referred to the Disciplinary Committee.
The committee consists of at least 14 members – at least half of who must be lay members. The committee meets once a month and meetings last approximately four hours.
Approximately 25 cases are considered at each meeting, so pre-meeting reading is substantial.
Investment Business Committee
The Investment Business Committee (IBC) is responsible for undertaking ICAEW’s duties as a designated professional body (DPB) under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 by acting as regulator to the firms that hold a DPB licence.
The main work involves reviewing QAD reports on visits to firms and the firms’ responses to the reports and deciding if any regulatory action is needed. The IBC also deals with new applications for licences and may consider complaints against firms in the regulated area of investment business referred to it by another committee.
The committee consists of at least eight members - a minimum of two are lay members.
Meetings are held three times a year at Chartered Accountants’ Hall in London and last for approximately two hours.
Time is required to read the agenda papers before each meeting; this can take up to three hours. There may also be some committee business dealt with by email.
The Practice Assurance Committee
To ensure compliance with the Practice Assurance scheme, a very experienced team of ICAEW reviewers monitor the 12,000 firms that operate within the scheme. The focus of these Practice Assurance monitoring reviews is to make sure the correct policies and procedures are in place to comply with the PA scheme. These reviews are not technical reviews of the work of our firms and members.
On occasion, our reviewers may undercover an issue. These are reported to the Practice Assurance Committee for review and consideration of next steps. Depending on the severity of the issue, the Committee will either provide feedback to the member or firm to help them improve their compliance and practice procedures. Or, the Committee will require the member / firm to take remedial action to address concerns, for example, in relation to the handling of clients’ money or the firm’s compliance with the requirements of the Money Laundering Regulations.
If the concerns are serious or persistent, the committee can take disciplinary action or refer the firm to the ICAEW Professional Conduct Department for further investigation.
As with all ICAEW Professional Standards committees, at least half of the Practice Assurance committee are lay members, ie someone who is not/never been a member, affiliate or employee of ICAEW or any other accountancy body).
The Practice Assurance Committee is overseen by the independent ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB) which has oversight of all the Professional Standards committees as well as the regulatory and disciplinary functions of Professional Standards Department. This governance structure ensures we carry out our role of maintaining the highest professional and ethical standards within the accountancy profession in a proportionate, accountable, consistent, transparent and focused manner.
The committee usually meets six times a year at Chartered Accountants’ Hall, London.
The Probate Committee is responsible for undertaking ICAEW’s responsibilities as an Approved Regulatory and Licensing Authority under the Legal Services Act 2007 for the reserved legal activity of probate. The Committee has ten members, five lay and five technical. The Chair of the committee is lay and has a casting vote. Lay members must never have qualified or practised as a professional accountant and must not be lawyers or persons with legal training. The quorum for the committee is five, of whom at least three must be lay.
The Probate Committee has responsibility for;
- considering and determining applications for probate accreditation;
- considering and determining applications for authorised individual, head of legal practice, head of finance and administration, non-authorised owner or probate affiliate status;
- monitoring compliance with the Probate Regulations;
- taking regulatory action as required to secure compliance with the Probate Regulations;
- referring matters to ICAEW disciplinary committees as required;
- compiling and maintaining a register of licensed firms and supplying this information to the Legal Services Board as required; and
- determining applications for grants under the Probate Compensation Scheme Regulation.
These responsibilities have been delegated to the committee by the ICAEW Council as formally it is ICAEW which is the Approved Regulator and Licensing Authority under the Legal Services Act 2007.
The Probate Committee currently meets approximately 10 times a year.
Members of the Review Committee sit in panels of three to hear applications by firms or members who disagree with a decision of the Audit Registration Committee, the Investment Business Committee or the Insolvency Licensing Committee. Panels are made up of two lay members and one professional member.
Applicants are entitled to appear in person at the hearing and to have legal representation. The panel considers the case afresh and decides whether any regulatory action needs to be taken against the applicant.
There are usually about three hearings each year.
Meetings are normally held at Chartered Accountants’ Hall in London.