Institute discipline may fall under Freedom of Information Act
Disciplinary procedures at the ICAEW could be opened up to greater transparency and public scrutiny, after it was revealed that the Financial Reporting Council is set to come under the Freedom of Information Act.
Senior officials at the institute said this week that, because the two bodies often work in parallel, ‘it would be very odd’ if the ICAEW’s procedures remained outside the remit of the Act.
But ICAEW chief executive Eric Anstee said he was unconvinced that the Act would be applied, because of the difficulties in defining the FRC as a non-departmental governmental body – the test for inclusion under the new legislation.
Anstee said that, as long as ‘transparency comes at the end of the process’, then the institute would not be against the Act being extended to cover the FRC and itself.
The FRC and Anstee are waiting to respond to a Department of Constitutional Affairs’ consultation, to be published imminently, on the organisations to be added to the list of those that come under the Act.
Both the ICAEW and the FRC will highlight the need for confidentiality in their disciplinary processes if they are to prove robust. ‘Confidentiality is needed, at least during the process,’ said Anstee.
Last week Accountancy Age revealed that the FRC was set to come under the remit of the Freedom of Information Act. Its chief executive Paul Boyle voiced fears that it may not be able to its job properly if every detail of its investigations came under public scrutiny.
‘When information is disclosed to us in confidence, then that would have to be exempt,’ said Boyle. ‘If that was not the case then we couldn’t do the job.’