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Appointing legal advisers to assist in disciplinary proceedings

Information sheet offering guidance for on finding a legal adviser for support if you are involved in disciplinary proceedings.

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Issued: September 2017
Last reviewed: April 2020


Being subject to investigation or disciplinary proceedings as the result of a complaint against you can be difficult, and the potential consequences can be serious. Providing accurate, timely and complete information to ICAEW in response to the complaint is important, as is providing details of any mitigating factors. However, you may be unsure how to best defend yourself and want to appoint a solicitor or barrister to help with your response and defence.

Support members cannot recommend a solicitor or barrister but have produced this information to help you to find an appropriately experienced legal adviser.

Appearing before ICAEW Disciplinary Committee

It can be particularly daunting if the case against you is referred to the Disciplinary Committee. However you do have a right to appear before the committee and also to be represented by your solicitor or barrister.

The Disciplinary Committee can award unlimited fines and also has powers to exclude individuals from membership of ICAEW. It is therefore important that you are properly prepared for the hearing and that you seek legal advice if appropriate.

Online searches

It is important to appoint someone with relevant experience to help you and provide clear guidance on professional procedural and disciplinary questions. The following pointers will help your search.

Find a solicitor

The Law Society provides a free service to search for a solicitor regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Visit solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk to search by legal issue and geographical area.

Find a barrister

The Bar Council provides a direct access portal where searches can be undertaken on specialism and geographical area.

Other useful websites

Other specialist search facilities are available and you might find it helpful to try some of these such as the online Chambers Directory.

Search engines

Using a search engine can also be helpful and appropriate key words to search might include a combination of ‘professional discipline’ ‘professional regulation and discipline’ ‘defence against professional discipline’, ‘accountancy professional’, ‘barrister’ and ‘solicitor’.

Further help

A further information sheet Finding a solicitor provides more tips on selecting a legal adviser. It is also worth talking to your contacts to see if anyone has a personal recommendation.

If you do not have internet access you may want to telephone the Law Society or Bar Council to ask for help in finding an appropriately experienced legal adviser to help you.

  • The Law Society +44 (0)20 7242 1222
  • The Bar Council +44 (0)20 7242 0082

About the Support Members Scheme

The Support Members Scheme provides support to members of ICAEW who are in difficulty. The support members offer totally confidential, non-judgemental telephone or face to face support to members of any age, in any circumstances and relating to your professional or personal life. They are trained to listen and are familiar with all of ICAEW's relevant procedures as well as other specialised helplines and resources. Support members themselves come from a variety of backgrounds but are all members of ICAEW committed to helping other members.

If you feel you could benefit from discussing your situation with a support member, please contact the scheme on +44(0)800 917 3526 or email support.members@icaew.com. You can also contact support members direct using the information available on the website at icaew.com/supportmembers.

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© ICAEW 2020  All rights reserved.

ICAEW cannot accept responsibility for any person acting or refraining to act as a result of any material contained in this helpsheet. This helpsheet is designed to alert members to an important issue of general application. It is not intended to be a definitive statement covering all aspects but is a brief comment on a specific point.

ICAEW members have permission to use and reproduce this helpsheet on the following conditions:

  • This permission is strictly limited to ICAEW members only who are using the helpsheet for guidance only.
  • The helpsheet is to be reproduced for personal, non-commercial use only and is not for re-distribution.

For further details members are invited to telephone the Technical Advisory Service T +44 (0)1908 248250. The Technical Advisory Service comprises the technical enquiries, ethics advice and anti-money laundering helplines. For further details visit icaew.com/tas.