The Practice Assurance Committee (PAC) is responsible for all operational matters relating to the Practice Assurance Scheme. It is appointed by the Council pursuant to Principal bye-law 49(a).
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 Practice Assurance standards and guidance, the Practice Assurance regulations, its terms of reference and any guidance issued by the ICAEW Regulatory Board (“IRB”).
The Committee comprises of ten members, at least half of whom must be lay. 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.
The Committee may not include any person who is a member of the Investigation, Disciplinary or Appeal Committees. Members of Council do not serve on the Committee.
Function of the committee
The primary function of the Committee is to consider reports arising from Practice Assurance visits where:
- serious areas of concerns have been identified in the provision of accountancy services to the public, particularly where the firm or practising certificate holder has been unwilling or appears unable to rectify them.
- there are failures by members or firms to comply with their obligations arising from the Practice Assurance Regulations.
The PAC is responsible for all operational matters relating to the PA scheme, including:
- considering reports arising from Practice Assurance reviews carried out by ICAEW’s Quality Assurance Department;
- requesting that PA firms and PC holders carry out remedial action or activities based on such reports;
- obtaining assurances and/or undertakings from PA firms and PC holders to carry out remedial action or activities;
- directing, in accordance with regulation 21, that PA firms or PC members be subject to a further monitoring review and determining the fee payable for that review;
- considering issues or matters referred to the Practice Assurance Committee by the ICAEW Regulatory Board or ICAEW staff;
- making representations to the ICAEW Regulatory Board on policy matters relating to the PA scheme;
- referring potential disciplinary matters for investigation to ICAEW’s Professional Conduct Department in accordance with regulation 33;
- proposing PA penalties to PC holders and PA firms in accordance with regulation 35 with the consent or the individual / firm.
The Committee may also take the following action:
- consider issues where staff require practical advice on such matters as interpretation of the guidance and best and acceptable practice;
- consider issues raised by individual members and firms including any dissatisfaction with the handling of visits or other aspects of the Practice Assurance arrangements.
In cases where the supervision of firms highlights an actual or possible breach of its regulatory arrangements, the Practice Assurance Committee will act to protect the public interest and the interests of consumers. This may be through a range of measures outlined above, from obtaining an informal undertaking from the firm or individual to undertake remedial action to offering regulatory penalties for less serious compliance or conduct issues identified during Practice Assurance reviews.
- The penalties are only applied with the consent of the member or firm.
- This process allows the PAC to deal with Practice Assurance matters more quickly by applying a sanction where appropriate, for example for AML breaches (at the request of ICAEW’s oversight regulators).
Operation of the committee
The Committee normally meets six times a year and meetings are normally held at Chartered Accountants’ Hall. The quorum for a meeting of the Committee, is two lay (non-accountant) and two accountant members.
At each meeting, the Committee is assisted by a committee administrator who provides administrative support. The Committee is also assisted by a committee secretary, a lawyer, who supports the Committee by providing both legal and procedural advice, when required.
The Committee may also seek advice from any source that it considers appropriate to enable it to discharge its responsibilities.
The Committee may delegate its powers to a Sub-committee (for instance to enable urgent matters to be considered promptly). A Sub-committee must include two lay (non-accountant members) and two accountant members.