Beloff plan backed

English ICA members found guilty of minor offences will escape with lighter penalties under changes to disciplinary rules approved by the institute’s ruling council.

Fierce opposition is expected, however, to a proposal that the institute’s disciplinary proceedings be held in public, rather than behind closed doors, as at present.

The changes have been put forward by Michael Beloff QC, who was commissioned last March to review the rules.

While small practitioners complain they are treated harshly, there has been anger at lenient penalties in high-profile cases. Beloff’s recommendations are now being considered in secret sessions of the institute’s council.

Accountancy Age understands several have been given the green light.

These include:

– a new ‘unpublicised caution’ for minor offences – a response to complaints that disciplinary options available are overly harsh for minor offences;

– disciplinary tribunals to include at least one member from the same background as the defendant; and

– tribunals to be given power to award costs to defendants found not guilty.

A major change proposed by Beloff – that disciplinary proceedings be held in public – has yet to be debated, however. One insider likened the prospect of the institute council approving this as ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’.

Some of the changes will require modifications to institute bye-laws, which members will vote on at an annual general meeting in June.

Beloff’s recommendation that the institute stop expelling bankrupt members was rejected. Changes which have been discussed but rejected by Beloff in his report, include:

– investigation committees – the prosecution in disciplinary cases – being allowed to challenge penalties that they consider lenient; and

– the institute providing legal advice to members in disciplinary cases.


New forums replacing the English ICA’s General Practitioners Board and Board of Chartered Accountants in Business, were approved in a closed session of the institute council last week.

The new bodies will hand over responsibility for providing services to the institute secretariat so they can concentrate on representing their members.

The GPB will become known as the Practitioners Forum, dropping the ‘general’ in an effort to widen its representational base. BCAB will become the Business Forum.

It is also expected that two new forums will be set up, one for younger members and another dealing with international issues.

The institute hopes to use email, electronic newsletters and discussion sites to increase member communication, and make its services easier to use.

The institute plans to have the new structure in place by the end of 1999.

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