The Appeal Committee (AC) 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 to Practise Committee (FtPC), panels of the Tribunals Committee (TC) and panels of the Review Committee (RC). The AC 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 Regulatory Review and Appeal Regulations, the Disciplinary bye-laws, its Terms of Reference and any guidance issued by the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales) 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 officeholders 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 formal allegations about legal services, while still being chaired by either the chair or the vice-chair of the AC, the panel must have a majority of members who are lay members.
Operation of the committee
The quorum for a meeting of the AC, 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 whole committee membership only meets once a year at the AGM. Members also attend an annual committee-wide training day.
The format of hearings is set out in the Regulatory Review and Appeal Regulations and is like the format adopted in civil and criminal proceedings, although less formal. Regulatory law is a well-established area and the hearings before panels of the ICAEW AC have much in common with tribunals run by other regulatory bodies, such as the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), GMC (General Medical Council) and NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council).
Panels may be asked to decide on preliminary issues, 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 human rights provisions.
Decisions of a panel are reached after hearing submissions by both parties in relation to the matters 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.
Decisions of an AC panel can be judicially reviewed.