To help you find the answer you need, ICAS has compiled a list of FAQs regarding the process of complaints.
How can I find out if my accountant is an ICAS Member?
You can check whether your accountant is an ICAS Member by searching for him/her on Find a CA. Alternatively, please call the Investigations Department on +44(0)131 347 0271 and we can check for you.
Should I speak to my accountant first before contacting ICAS?
ICAS Members will usually appoint a person within the Firm with specific responsibility for dealing with client complaints. You should first raise the matter with the individual with whom you have been dealing or a nominated partner within the firm to try to resolve the matter. The Firm is obliged to inform you in writing of your right to bring your complaint to the attention of ICAS. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the discussions, and if the individual concerned is an ICAS Member, you can submit a complaint.
My complaint relates to insolvency work; can I still complain to ICAS?
If you wish to complain about an Insolvency Practitioner, you will need to submit a complaint to the Insolvency Service in the first instance.
The Insolvency Service, which is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, operates a single complaints gateway for all complaints against Insolvency Practitioners practising in Great Britain. If the Insolvency Practitioner in question is licensed by ICAS, your complaint may eventually be referred to ICAS to consider and possibly investigate.
If you have concerns about an Insolvency Practitioner's handling of a case and you have failed to resolve the matter directly, then you should contact the Insolvency Service in the first instance on:
- Telephone: +44 (0)300 678 0015 (call charges may apply)
- Email: email@example.com
How can I make a complaint?
Please visit our how to make a complaint webpage to find out how to make a complaint.
Can I complain about the level of fees?
ICAS will not consider complaints that involve fee disputes between a Member and a client where the dispute relates to the amount of the fee. This is considered to be a commercial matter. ICAS does not recommend a scale of fees/charge out rates for its Members.
Section 240 of the ICAS Code of Ethics relates to fees and we will only consider complaints that involve a potential breach of these provisions.
Can I complain about professional negligence?
If you believe you have suffered financial loss, we would advise you to obtain legal advice. This would be considered a civil matter as the law provides a remedy for professional negligence. Please note that ICAS does not have the power to award compensation or order our Members to award compensation. We can however consider allegations that a Member’s work has fallen short of the expected standards.
Where can I get legal advice?
ICAS is not in a position to offer legal advice. You can seek help from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or you should contact the Law Society of Scotland (if you live in Scotland) or the Law Society (if you live in England or Wales) and they will be able to provide you with a list of solicitors in your local area. If you need help in relation to a personal insolvency procedure you may contact the office of the Accountant in Bankruptcy.
How long will the complaints process take?
The timing will depend on the circumstances of the complaint. The Case Officer appointed to consider your complaint must decide whether the issues concerned need to be referred to the Investigation Committee. He or she will aim to make this decision within three months of receipt of your complaint. Where a complaint is referred to the Investigation Committee and possibly to a Discipline Tribunal, the process can take much longer. The Investigation Committee expects complaints to be concluded within 12 months of receipt.
What is conciliation?
There will be circumstances where it is possible for a Member and a complainer to resolve a disagreement without the need for ICAS to carry out a formal investigation of a complaint. ICAS refers to complaints resolved in this manner as having been 'conciliated'.
Further information on this process can be found in our Conciliation Guidance. Please contact the Investigations Department on +44(0)131 347 0271 to discuss any questions you may have regarding the process.
What are the possible outcomes for the chartered accountant?
There are a number of sanctions that can be imposed on a Member if the complaint is upheld by either the Investigation Committee or a Discipline Tribunal.
Less serious matters may be dealt with by way of a caution. If the conduct concerned is more serious then there is a range of possible outcomes, including financial penalties. In the most serious cases, the Member may be suspended or excluded from Membership.
Full details of the sanctions available can be found in ICAS’ Sanctions Guidance. In nearly all instances, a sanction against a Member will receive publicity.
The professional bodies which authorise Insolvency Practitioners have agreed common sanctions guidance which applies to insolvency-related complaints. This guidance is available here.
What happens if I am not satisfied with the conclusions reached by ICAS?
The Investigation Committee includes a number of lay members whose participation in the investigative process provides scrutiny of the conduct of those investigations thereby protecting the public interest. If the Committee decides that there is no case for the Member to answer, and if you are dissatisfied, then you are entitled to apply for a review by the Independent Examiner, providing certain criteria are met. The Independent Examiner is neither a Chartered Accountant nor an employee of ICAS.
The Independent Examiner Regulations can be found here.
Is there an Ombudsman for the accountancy profession?
Whilst there is no Ombudsman, concerns over ICAS’ handling of a complaint may be raised with our oversight regulators. For insolvency complaints please contact the Insolvency Practitioner Review Service at the Insolvency Service on: +44 (0)300 678 0015 and for all other complaints please contact the Professional Oversight team at the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) on: +44 (0)20 7492 2455.
I'm a Member and a complaint has been made against me - who can I speak to?
Please refer to our complaints information for ICAS Members webpage if you are the subject of a complaint.
If you would like some general support over the course of the investigation process, you can contact ICAS’ Practice team. Whilst the team cannot give advice on how to respond to complaints, some Members may benefit from the chance to speak to someone in confidence.
ICAS’ Practice team can be contacted on +44 (0)131 347 0249 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions that are not otherwise answered on this page, please feel free to contact the Investigations Department on +44 (0)131 347 0271.