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Complaints, disciplinary and fitness processes and regulations

This section sets out the processes and regulations for the investigation of complaints, disciplinary action and appeals. It also sets out the duties of members and firms to report and investigate misconduct, and the process that applies in fitness cases.

Disciplinary Bye-laws
Updated 14 October 2019 - the Disciplinary Bye-laws (DBLs) govern the way in which complaints are investigated by ICAEW’s Professional Conduct Department (PCD) and the procedures governing the Investigation, Disciplinary, Appeal and Fitness Committees. *Note the Legal Services Disciplinary Bye-laws apply to legal services complaints about firms accredited to conduct probate work under the Legal Services Act 2007.

Investigation Committee Regulations
Updated 15 October 2018 – these set out the procedural rules for the Investigation Committee in considering complaints. Access the schedule of the most recent amendments to the Investigation Committee Regulations.

Disciplinary Committee Regulations
Updated 1 October 2019 – these set out the procedural rules for hearings of formal complaints by tribunals of the Disciplinary Committee. The changes to the Disciplinary Committee Regulations (1 October 2019) do not yet apply to complaints about accredited probate firms arising under the Probate Regulations. Until the amendments are approved by the Legal Services Board, the Disciplinary Committee Regulations dated  15 October 2018 continue to apply.

Appeal Committee Regulations
Updated 1 January 2021 – these set out the procedural rules for appeal hearings in relation to formal complaints by panels of the Appeal Committee. Access the schedule of the most recent amendments to the Appeal Committee Regulations. 

Please note: the January 2021 regulations have not yet been approved by the Legal Services Board and ICAEW probate accredited firms should refer to the 2018 regulations.

Fitness Committee Regulations
Updated 1 January 2021 – these set out the procedural rules for determining whether a respondent's fitness to participate in disciplinary proceedings and/or professional competence is seriously impaired by their physical or mental health. Access the schedule of the most recent amendments to the Fitness Committee Regulations. 

Please note: the January 2021 regulations have not yet been approved by the Legal Services Board and ICAEW probate accredited firms should refer to the 2018 regulations.

Review Committee Regulations
Updated 14 June 2017 – these set out the procedural rules for review hearings.

Interim Orders Regulations
Effective 1 January 2020 – these new regulations supplement the procedure for interim orders set down in DBL30.

Settlement Order Regulations
Effective 1 January 2020 – these new regulations supplement the procedure for settlement orders set down in DBL 18B.

Settlements process
A respondent or respondent firm may enter into a settlement agreement with ICAEW to resolve complaints without the need for the matter to proceed to full hearing before a tribunal of the Disciplinary Committee. The settlement order process allows formal complaints to be dealt with more swiftly and efficiently, and with less cost for both the respondent / respondent firm and ICAEW. It also enables disciplinary sanctions to be applied at an earlier stage by consent where the respondent or respondent firm accepts liability to disciplinary action, which the ICAEW Regulatory Board believes is in the public interest.

The duty on firms to investigate complaints
Guidance for firms on avoiding and dealing with complaints from clients.

The duty on members to report misconduct
This guidance sets out the types of misconduct members should report.

Guidance on Sanctions and fixed penalty process
Updated 1 July 2019 – these set out the key decisions in the sanctions process and the approach ICAEW committees must take whenever they make a sanctions order against a member, firm, affiliate or provisional member.

FRC Scheme and Regulations 
The FRC's role is the investigation, and where appropriate, hearing by disciplinary tribunal of public interest cases.

Public announcements about complaints 
Guidance to explain when ICAEW can make an announcement about a current complaint.

ICAEW Code of Conduct for Complainants
Your rights and obligations when you make a complaint to ICAEW

Fast track process for serious criminal conviction complaints

Certain types of complaints may be listed immediately for hearing before a tribunal of the Disciplinary Committee following investigation. The ICAEW Regulatory Board has determined that, for now, this process should apply to the first category of complaints under section 4 of the Guidance on Sanctions. These complaints attract a starting point of exclusion.