Institute rules out human rights move over cost concerns

A review of disciplinary procedures in the light of human rights law has been
ruled out by the ICAEW on the basis it would cost too much.

The institute has been under pressure, leading up to the introduction of
public tribunals next month, to check whether the new setup will be consistent
with human
rights laws.

But the body decided that the cost of doing so ­ estimated at £30,000, less
than half what it spent on its new logo ­ was too much.

Members’ group the Society of Professional Accountants criticised the
decision, saying that the cost worked out at just 25p per member.

Critics have suggested that a review is overdue, the last one having been
carried out by Michael Beloff QC in 1999. There have been major changes since
then after the introduction of the Human Rights Act into UK law.

‘It would be a small cost, as disciplinaries impact on every member,’ said
SPA chairman and ICAEW council member Peter Mitchell.

‘We’re moving into a new arena, it would have been sensible to have had this
in place: they haven’t gone the extra mile. It seemed an opportune time to
assess whether we are wholly compliant.’

The institute’s reason for not spending the money was that it has never had a
complaint on human rights’ grounds.

The body also revealed that details of the process for publicising the dates
of tribunals would be available from 21 December, with the first public hearings
expected in mid-January.

The tribunals will be posted on its website seven days before the hearing.
Members facing a tribunal will have the opportunity to request a hearing away
from the public glare, but it is expected this will only occur in exceptional

‘We’ve made it clear that the chair can hear parts of the proceedings
privately; we will be sensitive to that. It’s not pioneering, just common
practice,’ ICAEW executive director of professional standards Vernon Soare
previously told Accountancy Age.

The move to public tribunals leaves ICAS as the only CCAB body to undertake
all hearings in private.

The ICAEW began its move following best practice guidelines from the
Professional Oversight Board, and the public hearing of the Mayflower case by
the Accountancy Investigation & Discipline Board.

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