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Here we set out the regulations that govern ICAEW's disciplinary processes. You can also access archives of ICAEW regulations for cases begun before 1 June 2023.

Overview of changes to the disciplinary process

  • The provisions dealing with process have been transferred out of the Disciplinary Bye-laws (DBLs) and moved into the new Investigation and Disciplinary Regulations (IDRs). Core requirements, such as ICAEW member and firm obligations (for example the duty to report misconduct) remain within the new DBLs. Find out more.
  • The number of DBLs has therefore been reduced from 49 to 16.
  • Archaic language and Latin phraseology have been removed to make the process easier for all parties to understand. Find out more.
  • The principles of the Code of Conduct for Complainants have been incorporated into the regulations.
  • The types of sanction which can be offered or imposed now includes non-financial sanctions such as a requirement for a member to undertake specific training or for a firm to implement training around a particular area to relevant teams. Find out more.
  • A 'lie on file' procedure streamlines the process for dealing with multiple complaints. This means investigations into further complaints regarding members who have already been expelled have now been paused. These complaints instead 'lie on file', to be reassessed if there is a future application for readmission to ICAEW membership. Find out more.
  • Changes have been made to the interim order threshold which give greater protection for the public. Previously interim orders were only available in extremely limited circumstances. The threshold has been broadened to enable temporary measures to be put in place during the investigation process if there is a clear and obvious concern that there is a risk of significant harm to the public. These changes are in line with other regulators' current processes. Find out more.
  • Matters which may be 'fast-tracked' to the Tribunals Committee have been defined in this list of Designated Criminal Convictions.

Overview of changes to the process for challenging disciplinary decisions

Duncan Wiggetts, PSD Chief Officer explains more about these changes:

  • In line with many other regulators, the subject of the allegation(s) now needs to seek permission to appeal. (There is currently no process to determine whether an appeal fits within the specified grounds for appeal until the start of a full hearing.) The ICAEW Regulatory Board believes this change protects the public interest by ensuring the final outcome in disciplinary cases is not delayed by allowing frivolous or unsustainable appeals. Find out more.
  • Requests to appeal by the Conduct Department now go straight to the Appeal Committee Chair (or Vice Chair) rather than first to the Investigation or Conduct Committee Chair. Find out more.
  • The Conduct Department is now able to lodge an appeal if it considers that the sanction imposed by a tribunal was insufficient or inappropriate. The Conduct Department can also appeal findings as well as orders. Find out more.
  • The Reviewer of Complaints has been replaced by Case File Reviewers. Find out more.
  • Appeal hearings are now automatically carried out in public rather than in private (unless permission is granted for a private hearing).

As previously, you should also refer to the statutory regulations for regulatory matters.

Changes to departments and committees

The ICAEW Professional Conduct Department has changed its name to the Conduct Department.

  • This department is still responsible for assessing complaints, investigating conduct matters, proposing fixed penalties in respect of more minor conduct matters, and for referring 'serious conviction complaints' directly to the Tribunals Committee.
  • The important safeguard has been maintained whereby every complainant has the right to insist that their complaint still be reported to the Conduct Committee for review. 

The Investigation Committee has changed its name to the Conduct Committee.

  • This committee remains responsible for reviewing, on request from a complainant, decisions of the Conduct Department to close complaints it considers do not disclose a potential liability to disciplinary action, are time barred, or are repetitive or vexatious (see IDR 10).
  • This committee remains responsible for reviewing allegations referred to it by the Conduct Department and will continue to be able to deal with matters by consent order.

The Disciplinary Committee has changed its name to the Tribunals Committee.

  • Tribunals comprising of three members of the Tribunals Committee continue to hear formal allegations referred by either the Conduct Committee or the Conduct Department.
  • A case management process continues to apply to allow for the fair and efficient handling of matters pre-hearing.
  • Respondents continue to have a right of appeal against orders of the Tribunals Committee.

The Fitness Committee has changed its name to the Fitness to Practise Committee.

  • Referrals continue to be made by either the ICAEW Professional Standards Department Chief Officer on behalf of ICAEW, or by the individual themselves.
  • The test for orders of the Fitness to Practise Committee remains the same ie, whether a respondent's fitness to respond to an investigation or (disciplinary or regulatory) proceedings and/or fitness to practise is seriously impaired by their physical or mental health. For completeness, the test has been widened to both the individual's fitness to respond to disciplinary proceedings and regulatory proceedings. ICAEW continues to be able to request that a Fitness to Practise Panel make an accelerated order in respect of the respondent in urgent cases, which may remain in place for a maximum of three months until a full hearing of the panel can be convened.
  • Parties are still able to agree consent orders to resolve matters without the need for a panel hearing.
  • Hearings of Fitness to Practise Panels continue to be conducted informally applying an inquisitorial (rather than adversarial) approach, and orders of the Fitness to Practise Panels continue to be subject to a review (including an interim review) and an appeals process.
Current Disciplinary Framework

View the Disciplinary Bye-laws and associated regulations that came into effect on 1 June 2023.

Read the regulations
Useful links

Learn more about our independent regulatory and disciplinary committees.

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