FRC disciplinary cases to be settled without need for tribunals

THE ACCOUNTING WATCHDOG is to introduce a procedure that allows disciplinary cases to be concluded without the need for a full tribunal hearing as part of a series of changes to the way disciplinary schemes operate.

Under proposals issued by the Financial Reporting Council, cases under investigation by the regulator could, in some instances, be settled without the need for a public hearing before a disciplinary tribunal.

As part of the FRC consultation, the regulator intends to distance itself from the professional bodies that help fund it by removing the requirement to consult with them during the disciplinary process.

The FRC expects this will save time and costs in appropriate cases, as consultations with the professional bodies sometimes add as much as three months to the process of starting an investigation.

The institutes will also lose the right to veto future changes to the schemes, although in instances when one or more of the professional bodies continues to object to a proposed amendment to the disciplinary scheme, the disagreement will be referred to an independent adjudicator, such as a recently retired member of the Supreme Court or other recently retired, senior member of the judiciary.

Other proposals include giving the FRC the ability to conduct enquiries before launching an investigation, and giving it the power to impose interim orders. However, the FRC said that that interim orders would be reserved for the most exceptional circumstances.

Richard Fleck, conduct committee chairman, said the package put forwards by the FRC would create a more “streamlined disciplinary process”.

“We believe that these changes will benefit all parties and lead to swifter disciplinary outcomes while preserving the necessary level of transparency,” Fleck said.

Following the restructuring of the FRC with effect from 2 July 2012, responsibility for operating the disciplinary schemes will transfer from the Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) to the FRC through the Conduct Committee, which will assume day-to-day responsibility for the oversight and maintenance of nthe disciplinary arrangements.

Responses to the consultation are requested by 15 September 2012.

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