Letters – 19 November

One law for the Big Five … It would appear that Mr Nigel Eastaway seems to think there should be a different ruling or type of action for the major firms of accountants compared to the smaller firm or sole practitioner (‘Criminal Liability Tangles Tax Advice’, 5 November). ‘If someone has been stepping out of line they should be brought to book within the firm’ – Mr Eastaway says, referring to the major firms.

He then goes on to state that, if a partner in a smaller firm is thought to have overstepped the mark, the Revenue should raise the complaint with the professional body such as the CIoT or the English ICA to consider disciplinary action.

Why should the action be any different? We all came out of the same exam room; we are all chartered accountants. Why should the individual in the major firm not be reported to the disciplinary body? Why a bias in favour of the large firm, as there always appears to be anyway?

I think you have slipped up in your article, Mr Eastaway, and displayed your innermost thoughts that the treatment should be different for one of the large, favoured firms, so they can, if they so wish, deal with it internally and, if necessary, whitewash the situation. Whereas the small practitioner and the smaller firm have to be exposed to public disciplinary action.

I cannot follow your reasoning, and could be forgiven for saying that it is biased. I think your subconscious leaked through, perhaps not intending to cause offence, but I think you may find it has. I hasten to add that I am not offended by it: I have been insulted by experts.

Gordon Wood FCA, ATII, Bristol

Winter of discontent

So, despite the outcry, the English ICA is continuing to publish the unloved and unwanted Winning Business Strategies (5 November).

You report that Kate Winter of the English ICA has said that ‘it would not be sent to anyone who does not want it’. What is not reported is that it will still be sent to all firms unless the English ICA is told not to send it.

This seems to me to be ‘junk mail’ mentality and I would urge all firms which do not want to receive this publication to telephone Kate Winter at the English ICA to tell her what to do with this magazine.

Lawrence Hurst FCA, Pinner, Middlesex

ICA criminal justice at work

Is it me? Has anyone else noticed the supreme irony of the English ICA’s disciplinary committee’s latest report in Accountancy?

The first offender listed had committed the ultimate sin of being disqualified from holding office as a company director. The punishment for such a serious crime can only be one thing – immediate exclusion from the institute.

The second offender had committed the, by comparison, trivial offence of conspiring to murder a federal official in the US. Of course, such a minor offence merits no more than a reprimand. Presumably, she responded quickly to the committee’s requests for information and avoided the possibility of being fined a couple of hundred pounds.

No wonder accountants get a bad press.

Stephen Flowitt-Hill, Angus, Dundee

It wasn’t like that in my day

I shall be 90 on 12 December, and my son-in-law and grandson are both chartered accountants.

In the mid-1930s, I attended a packed meeting of CAs in a Park Lane Hotel.

The only item on the agenda was ‘Should the minimum salary for chartered accountants be fixed at #5 a week?’

It was thrown out … because the feeling was it might become the maximum!

Alfred Holt, FCA, Eastbourne

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