FRC calls for institute arbitration schemes

The Professional Oversight Board for Accountancy today (Thursday) called for the UK’s accountancy bodies to set up independent arbitration schemes to resolve disputes involving accountants and complaints about service.

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In a report on procedures for dealing with complaints and member discipline POBA, part of the Financial Reporting Council, said that although progress has been made since the last report by the review board of the Accountancy Foundation, there was much more still left undone. This was particularly so in the area of service-related disputes.

‘While the bodies were generally making effective progress in implementing earlier recommendations, we are underpinning investor, market and public confidence in financial reporting by reaffirming certain recommendations where we consider progress to be insufficient and by introducing an independent arbitration service,’ said POBA chairman Sir John Bourn.

The main recommendations are:

  • establishing an independent arbitration scheme for the resolution of service-related complaints and disputes involving accountants from chartered bodies;
  • the arbitration scheme should have as wide a remit and range of available solutions as is possible;
  • issue of misconduct should not be dealt with through arbitration but through the body’s disciplinary systems or the AIDB;
  • mandatory engagement letters between accountants and clients, mandatory internal complaints procedures, procedures on closing complaints, open hearings, and powers to reduce or waive fees, and reimburse costs following misconduct findings.

POBA wants the institutes’ proposals for the schemes submitted by August and has said it will work with the bodies to ensure effective implementation.

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