The change, which would see the legal profession forced to open up to competitive practices, was today welcomed by CIMA. The management accountants’ institute said the investigation would encourage wider access to members’ services and to price competition.
While CIMA members are not part of the auditing profession, they are engaged in a wide variety of management consultancy and financial management activity in serving businesses worldwide.
Student affairs director Robert Jelly said: ‘CIMA welcomes this investigation and is an advocate of price competition and the prospect of widening access to the services of its members. Public confidence in the accountancy profession is vital and it is hoped that the OFT enquiry will reassure customers of the profession that they are receiving value for money.’
The competition watchdog has confirmed it had been asked by the UK government to look into the impact of an exemption of lawyers and accountants from the new Competition Act, which came into force on 1 March.
It said it was asked to investigate these two areas, which together are worth more than £25bn, because of their importance to consumers.
The inquiry is likely to focus on areas that keep fees artificially high. English ICA secretary general John Collier said accountancy bodies less of a stranglehold than the Law Society and claimed the profession was not involved in anti-competitive practices.
First, rules that restrict entry to the profession, secondly, rules that prevent law or accountancy firms from advertising or competing on price, and thirdly, laws which force people to use qualified professionals for certain activities.
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