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Public announcements about complaints

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

1

These guidelines apply to any announcement by the Investigation Committee under Disciplinary Bye-law 36.1 concerning the affairs of an individual or firm that is subject to the Disciplinary Bye-laws, whether or not that individual or firm is named in the announcement.

2

In order to comply with Disciplinary Bye-law 36.1, the Investigation Committee must be satisfied that a public statement is necessary to maintain public confidence in ICAEW’s disciplinary and/or statutory function and that the public statement concerns:             

  • any matter relating to, or connected with, ICAEW’s performance of any of its disciplinary or statutory functions; or
  • the reasons why a matter referred to ICAEW for investigation does not give rise to a liability (or potential liability) to disciplinary action under the Disciplinary Bye-laws; or
  • any matter relating to, or connected with, the Investigation Committee’s performance of its intervention powers under Disciplinary Bye-law 30.
3 It will be for the Investigation Committee to decide on a case by case basis whether a public statement is necessary to maintain public confidence in ICAEW’s disciplinary and / or statutory function. However, it is likely that the Investigation Committee would consider it necessary to exercise its powers under Disciplinary Bye-law 36.1 in the following circumstances: 
  • where a listed or other other public interest company involving one or more ICAEW member or regulated individual or firm has collapsed leading to substantial loss of funds and / or public scrutiny;
  • where the conduct of an ICAEW member or regulated individual or firm is the subject of criticism from an official body or gives rise to widespread public and/or media discussion. 
4

Any announcement under Disciplinary Bye-law 36 will be made by the Investigation Committee. In the event that a statement is to be made in accordance with DBL 36.1(a) concerning an individual or firm authorised to conduct activity regulated under statute, the announcement may be made by the relevant ICAEW regulatory committee under powers delegated by the Investigation Committee.

5

Examples of the sort of announcement which might be made under Disciplinary Bye-law 36.1 are:

'ICAEW has received from the Secretary of State a copy of the report of Inspectors appointed under section [ ] to look into the affairs of XYZ plc. The report is being studied and will be dealt with in accordance with the procedures laid down in ICAEW's Disciplinary Bye-laws.If those procedures should result in a finding adverse to any ICAEW member or regulated individual or firm, the finding will normally be the subject of a further announcement.'

'ICAEW has received a complaint concerning the auditors of XYZ plc at the time of its collapse. It is being dealt with in accordance with procedures laid down in ICAEW’s Disciplinary Bye-laws. Should those procedures result in a finding adverse to any ICAEW member or regulated individual or firm, that finding will normally be the subject of a further announcement.'

'ICAEW is studying the collapse of XYZ plc with a view of determining whether there are grounds for investigating the conduct or competence of any ICAEW member or regulated individual  or firm. Should that investigation  result in a finding adverse to any ICAEW member or regulated individual or firm, that finding will normally be the subject of a further announcement.'

'ICAEW has considered a complaint against Messrs A, B & C and decided that there are no grounds for disciplinary or other action.' (Only to be used where the fact of the complaint is public knowledge or at the request of the individual or firm concerned.).

'A professional conduct committee of ICAEW has found Mr AB not guilty of misconduct in relation to....' (Only to be used where the fact of the complaint is public knowledge or at the request of the individual or firm concerned.).

6

No announcement will name or otherwise identify an individual or firm unless this is necessary or desirable in order to maintain public confidence in ICAEW, its members or regulated individuals or firms, or the profession. It will be necessary or desirable to name an individual or firm:  

  • where failure to do so would defeat the purpose of the announcement, for example because it would not be possible to relate the announcement to the subject of public concern; or
  • where the name is already a matter of public knowledge.
7 If an individual or firm is named in the announcement, they will be provided with a copy of the statement as soon as it is issued together with details of the media outlets to whom the statement has been given so that they are in a position to provide their own response / comment.
8 An announcement under Disciplinary Bye-law 36.1 will be accompanied by a short written statement in standard form describing ICAEW’s disciplinary and regulatory arrangements, including the representation of lay persons on relevant committees, tribunals and panels. Where appropriate, the statement may refer also to the relationship between ICAEW’s disciplinary framework and the Financial Reporting Council’s Accountancy Scheme.
9 Once an announcement has been made, no further announcement will be made prior to the conclusion of any investigation, save to explain ICAEW’s procedures following a finding of not proved or the upholding of an appeal against a finding of proved or unless circumstances change in such a way as to make the original announcement incorrect or misleading.

Definitions

Listed company means:

  • a company whose shares or securities have been admitted to listing by a recognised stock exchange; and
  • a company whose equity share capital is marketed under the regulations of a recognised stock exchange, eg, companies whose shares are dealt in on the Unlisted Securities Market.

Other public interest company means a company or other organisation in either the private and public sectors which is 'in the public eye' because of its size or the product or services it provides. Examples of such companies and organisations would be large charitable organisations and trusts, major monopolies, duopolies, building societies, industrial and provident societies or credit unions, deposit-taking organisations, and those holding investment business client money.