To help you find the answer you need, ICAS has compiled a list of FAQs regarding the process of complaints.
What if I want to 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.
ICAS does offer a Fee Arbitration Scheme for non-insolvency related fee disputes.
How do I find out which professional body regulates an accountant?
Usually the details are shown at the foot of the individual's headed paper. If not, you can contact ICAS (Complaints Helpline: 0131 347 0271), give the name of the individual, and we will confirm whether or not he/she is a member of ICAS. If necessary, we can give you contact telephone numbers and addresses of other professional bodies.
Before I make a complaint I would like to speak to someone about it, whom can I approach?
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 concern is an ICAS Member, you may telephone our Complaints Helpline or submit a complaint.
Can I make a complaint against an Insolvency Practitioner?
Yes, although such complaints need to be submitted to the Insolvency Service in the first instance. The Insolvency Service, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, operates a single complaints gateway for all complaints against Insolvency Practitioners practising in Great Britain. ICAS will investigate all complaints against Insolvency Practitioners that are referred by the Insolvency Service.
If you have concerns about an Insolvency Practitioner's handling of a case and you have failed to resolve the matter direct then you should contact the Insolvency Service in the first instance:
Telephone: 0300 678 0015 (call charges apply)
What happens if a complaint concerns professional negligence?
This sort of complaint is a civil matter, as the law provides a remedy for professional negligence.
Can I be compensated for loss/damage resulting from my accountant’s dealings
ICAS cannot compensate you and it has no powers to order Members to pay compensation. However, we do require our practising Members to maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance that, in most circumstances, will protect clients from loss or damage caused by negligence.
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.
Can I be called as a witness to support my complaint?
You may be asked to attend a meeting with an ICAS staff member and/or with members of the Investigation Committee appointed to consider your complaint. This will be to provide further information in connection with your complaint. If the matter is referred to a hearing of the Discipline Tribunal then you may be required to attend to give evidence.
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 3 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 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 through a formal written warning. 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 expelled from Membership.
Full details of the sanctions available may be found in the ICAS Rules and Investigation Regulations. In nearly all instances, a sanction against a Member will receive some form of publicity.
The professional bodies which authorise Insolvency Practitioners have agreed common sanctions guidance which applies to insolvency-related complaints. The guidance is available at: www.bis.gov.uk/insolvency/contact-us/IP-Complaints-Gateway/Common-Sanctions
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.
Is there an Ombudsman for the accountancy profession?
There is no Ombudsman. The Professional Oversight Board and the Department monitor the complaints handling procedures of ICAS for Trade and Industry.
If you would like further information please contact the Complaints helpline on 0131 347 0271.