The settlement order process allows formal allegations to be dealt with more swiftly and efficiently, and with less cost for both the subject of the allegations and ICAEW. It also enables disciplinary sanctions to be applied at an earlier stage by consent where the member, firm, affiliate, or relevant person accepts liability to disciplinary action, which the ICAEW Regulatory Board believes is in the public interest.
Under IDR 46.1, at any time following the referral of one or more formal allegations to the Tribunals Committee, but prior to the start of a final hearing, the parties may apply to the Tribunals Committee for the approval of a draft settlement order to conclude the disciplinary proceedings. If the parties agree terms of settlement, a proposed settlement agreement and draft settlement order will be prepared by ICAEW’s Professional Conduct Department for approval by a Settlement Chair. A Settlement Chair is a member of the Tribunals Committee who has been approved to chair hearings by the Regulatory and Conduct Appointments Committee (RACAC).
The proposed settlement agreement may specify one or more of the sanctions that are available to the Tribunals Committee under DBL 11.1.
It will be for the Settlement Chair to determine whether the proposed settlement agreement and draft settlement order are in the public interest and should be approved. In carrying out their review, the Settlement Chair will have regard to such matters as:
a) the seriousness of the formal allegation(s) compared with the nature and extent of the admissions made by the subject of the allegation(s);
b) the degree to which the subject of the allegation(s) has displayed insight into the conduct giving rise to the formal allegation(s);
c) the strength of the documentary evidence in relation to the formal allegation(s) and the potential benefits in a panel hearing additional oral evidence;
d) the public interest in achieving an earlier conclusion to the case;
e) the degree to which the member, firm, affiliate, or relevant person has put in place safeguards to prevent similar issues arising in the future;
f) any remedial action taken in relation to the formal allegation(s);
g) the ICAEW Guidance on Sanctions.
If the Settlement Chair approves the proposed settlement agreement:
- They will sign the proposed settlement agreement and make the settlement order on behalf of the Tribunals Committee
- The settlement order will take effect after 7 days of service of the order on the parties; and
- The settlement order will be published.
If the Settlement Chair declines to approve the proposed settlement agreement, the draft settlement order will not be made and the formal allegation(s) may proceed to a hearing before a Tribunal Committee panel in the usual way. Any subsequent panel will not be advised of the content of any settlement discussions between the member, firm, affiliate, or relevant person and ICAEW so as not to prejudice the Tribunal Committee hearing (although a panel may be advised that settlement discussions are ongoing). For this reason, the Settlement Chair will not be appointed as a member of that Tribunal Committee panel.