Institutes act ‘promptly’ on competition concerns

The twelve-month progress report identified the prohibition on advertising fee comparisons, cold-calling of potential clients, and the receiving of payment from clients referred to accountancy professionals, as having their origins in the rules of the ICAEW, ACCA and the AAT.

But in its report the OFT said the ICAEW had acted to ‘liberalise’ all three of these prohibitions – including removing the restriction on cold-calling, amended its ethical guidelines to allow members to pay commission to third parties, as well as lift the ban on comparative advertising.

ACCA has also ‘taken steps’ to amend these rules, while the AAT has ‘altered its guidelines on professional ethics’ in line with those taken by the ICAEW, according to the report.

All changes have been effective since 1 March 2002.

John Vickers, director general of the OFT, praised the professional bodies for their actions, saying: ‘We welcome the fact that each of the professional bodies concerned has taken some positive action towards removing unjustified restrictions.’

The OFT investigation, launched in March 2001, sought to identify and where possible initiate change in restrictions which constrain the freedom to compete in the profession both at institutional level and at governmental level, where the restriction is statutory.

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