ACCA weighs Canada action

ACCA is considering legal action over the continued refusal of Canada’s accounting appraisal board to recognise its qualification, a move that could plunge the profession into a bitter transatlantic dispute.

Documents obtained by Accountancy Age show ACCA made a submission to the Canadian International Qualifications Appraisal Board in 1991 and tried again at the request of the trade department in 1997, only to suffer another setback.

Sources confirmed chief executive Anthea Rose had written to IQAB asking if ACCA had been treated differently to the English ICA, which has a mutual recognition agreement with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.

ACCA also asked to see the institutes’ agreement, as World Trade Organisation rules say such deals should not be ‘discriminatory’.

Rose’s letter has yet to be considered by IQAB despite pressure on the board to withdraw what some see as discriminatory behaviour.

IQAB and the Canadian institute work closely together with at least one senior member of the board working from the institute’s offices in Toronto.

A senior ACCA insider said: ‘The DTI has supported us in this. The WTO has a role in this, as do the courts.’

Although the documents state ACCA was turned down principally because IQAB does not believe its qualification adequately tests ‘cognitive skills’ and is not sufficiently graduate-orientated, IQAB observers have suggested the problems run far deeper.

Canadian institute director of educational services John McReynolds said: ‘The DTI prohibits Canadian chartered accountants from practising public audit in the UK and this is highly political.

‘Canadians used to be able to become members in the chartered bodies which would give them the right to practise, but this is no longer the case.’

The English ICA said it had not used its special agreement to influence its Canadian counterpart. International affairs executive Jackie McHenry said the institute was not involved in the decision-making process and she supported the DTI’s action to help ACCA.

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