The Appeal Committee is established by the Council in accordance with the schedule to the disciplinary bye-laws. It is responsible for considering appeals against decisions made by the Fitness Committee, tribunals of the Disciplinary Committee and panels of the Review Committee. The committee carries out its responsibilities within the framework of the general duties and procedural requirements for committees set out in Annex 6 of the Scheme of Delegations. It also carries out its responsibilities in accordance with the Appeal Regulations, the disciplinary bye-laws, its Terms of Reference and any guidance issued by the ICAEW Regulatory Board (IRB).
The committee has a minimum of 14 members, of whom at least half must be lay members. The requirements of the constitution of the committee are contained in its Terms of Reference. Members are appointed for a term of three years which may be renewed once, with a further option for extension for one additional term.
ICAEW office-holders are not members ex officio of the committee in accordance with Principal Bye-law 44. Members of Council do not serve on the committee.
In the case of appeals related to complaints about legal services, while still being chaired by either the chair or the vice-chair of the Appeal Committee, the panel must have a majority of members who are lay members.
Function of the committee
The committee is responsible for considering appeals against findings, decisions and/or orders of the Disciplinary Committee, the Review Committee and the Fitness Committee (fitness and readmission/re-registration cases). The main function of the committee is to supply members to sit on Appeal and/or Review Panels.
The chair or vice-chair is responsible for the nomination of a referee (Queen’s Counsel) on a request made by the Chartered Accountants Compensation Scheme Limited in accordance with Regulation 10.03(b) of the Compensation Scheme Regulations.
Operation of the committee
The quorum for a meeting of the committee, usually referred to as a panel for the hearing of a case, is five members: two chartered accountant members, two lay members and a chair who must be a barrister or solicitor. The committee only meets once a year at the AGM. Members also meet more informally at training sessions.
The format of hearings is set out in the Appeal Committee Regulations, and is similar to that adopted in civil and criminal proceedings, although a more informal approach can be adopted. Regulatory law is a well-established area and the hearings before panels of the ICAEW Appeal Committee have much in common with tribunals run by other regulatory bodies, such as the ACCA, GMC and NMC.
Panels may be asked to decide on preliminary issues, such as admissibility of evidence, whether a hearing should be held in public or whether a hearing should be adjourned. They will also have to ensure that their decisions follow the relevant regulations and bye-laws and adhere to the requirements of the ECHR. Decisions of a panel are judicially reviewable.
Decisions of a panel are reached after hearing evidence and submissions by both parties in relation to the complaint(s) before them. Decisions are reached on a majority basis, and the decision is written in a ‘record of decision’ which will be sent to the member after the hearing. Currently, the record of decision is drafted by the legally-qualified chair, after discussion with the panel members. It is then approved by the panel members before being sent to the parties.