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Regulated bussinesses


The practice of accountancy as such is not regulated in the UK. However, accountancy bodies in the UK regulate certain types of accountants who are members of the following professional bodies:

* Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) (governed by Royal Charter)

* Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) (governed by a Royal Charter)

* Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) (governed by Royal Charter)

* Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) (governed by Royal Charter)

* Chartered Accountants Ireland (formerly the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland)

* Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) (governed by Royal Charter)

The legal basis for the existence and powers of the above bodies is set out in the Royal Charter establishing them (an example of the Royal Prerogative which stilll exists alongside the UK Parliament). In the case of Chartered Accountants Ireland, the original Royal Charter granted before independence has since been supplementted and amended by Irish legislation.

Registered auditors

Only accountants who are registered auditors may audit the accounts of companies. Recognised Qualifying Bodies (RQBs) in relation to company auditing under the Companies Act 2006 are entitled to accredit accountants to be registered auditors. Other than CIMA, the above accountancy bodies are RQBs.

What's new:

7/06/2013: CIMA disciplinary ruling overturned by the High Court
R (on the application of May) v The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
[2013] All ER (D) 274 (Jun) Alternative Citation [2013] EWHC 1574 (Admin)

Ms May (the Claimant) was a member of the Council of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). Ms May sent an email to certain of people in which she referred to a news report about Great Ormond Street Hospital and the hospital’s conduct towards a whistleblower; one of the hospital’s non-executive directors was the CIMA Chief Executive Officer (the Defendant) and Ms May observed that he should be required to resign his directorship and make a statement objecting to the actions of the hospital.

The Defendant sent a letter to the Claimant which asked her to stop sending any more emails of that type. The letter was marked 'Strictly Private and Confidential'. The Claimant then sent to cerain other people a copy of the Defendant’s letter and of her response. The Defendant complained to the CIMA President, disciplinary proceedings were started against the Claimant and the CIMA disciplinary committee found she had failed to respect confidentiality and, thereby had failed to act with integrity; she was therefore found guilty of professional misconduct. The Claimant appealed to the Council’s appeal committee which upheld the decision of the disciplinary committee.

The claimant challenged the appeal committee's decision by taking judicial review proceedings in the High Court. The court allowed the appeal. The issue was not whether the claimant had been in breach of a common law duty of confidence, it had been whether she was in breach of the duty imposed under the relevant provision in the CIMA code of ethics. The appeal committee was mistaken in treating the fact that the letter was marked 'Strictly Private and Confidential' as conclusive of the question whether there was a breach of the duty imposed by the confidentiality provision without asking itself whether the letter in fact contained confidential information which the claimant had acquired as a result of her professional relationship, and which she was bound to respect and not to disclose to third parties. The decision should be quashed.

[Page updated: 11/07/2013]

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