The IIPA operates an Investigation and Disciplinary system that is underpinned by the Bye-Laws of the Institute and by Company Law. Clients of Incorporated Public Accountants, or anybody else who deems it necessary, may make a complaint to the Institute of Incorporated Public Accountants. Generally, you should attempt to resolve the matter with your accountant in the first instance, but if you are unable to do so you may need to make a complaint.
Before Sending in a Complaint Form
The first thing you should do is make sure that the accountant that you are complaining about is a Member of the IIPA. If the individual or firm is not a Member of the IIPA then they are not subject to regulation by the IIPA and you will need to seek redress elsewhere. If you cannot ascertain from the accountant themselves if they are a Member of the IIPA you can contact us 01-2069000 to confirm Membership.
You should have sufficient documentation at your disposal to support your complaint. It can be very difficult to progress a complaint where little or no documentary evidence is available.
You should also be aware that the IIPA does not generally involve itself in fee disputes between Members and their Clients. If you make a complaint that is purely about fees then it will not be accepted.
If you are complaining of a criminal matter then you should report the matter to the Garda Siochana in the first instance and have them investigate it first. The Institutes Investigation and Discipline system is not a substitute for the Criminal Justice system.
If you feel that you may have a civil claim in the Courts against your accountant you should consult your legal advisor.
Making a Complaint
All complaints must be made on the required complaint form. The completed form, along with supporting evidence should be forwarded to the Director of Professional Conduct, Institute of Incorporated Public Accountants, Heather House, Heather Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18.
The Institutes Investigation and Disciplinary System operates through a number of phases.
STEP 1: Review by the Director of Professional Conduct
The Director of Professional Conduct will review the complaint and come to an initial decision on the complaint. In doing so he may seek additional information from either the complainant, the Member or another source. He is authorised under IIPA Bye-Laws to seek to resolve the matter at this stage if possible. The possible outcomes at this stage include:
- The Director resolves the matter to the satisfaction of the complainant and the Member;
- The Director sends the matter forward to the Investigation Committee;
- The Director concludes that he cannot deal with the case because it relates to fees and closes that case;
- The Director concludes that the complaint is vexatious and closes the case.
STEP 2: Investigation
Cases that progress to the Investigation Committee where the committee will, as its name suggests, undertake a detailed investigation into the complaint. The key role of the Investigation Committee is to decide whether the complainant has established a Prima-Facie case. In undertaking this role they can call for further evidence and hold hearings. The Investigation Committee consists of three independent members (i.e. individuals who are not Members of the IIPA) and two Members of the IIPA. The possible outcomes at this stage are:
- The Committee finds that a prima facie case exists and they exercise their powers to make an order against the Member (such an order can include a requirement to pay a fine, costs, undertake a particular activity but the Committee does not have the power to remove an individuals Membership.);
- The Committee finds that a prima facie case exists and they exercise their powers to send the case to the Disciplinary Committee;
- The Committee finds that a prima facie case exists and leaves the case resting on file to be reactivated in the event of further misconduct;
- The Committee finds that no prima facie case exists and the case is closed.
Decisions of the Investigation Committee can be appealed to the Disciplinary Committee.
STEP 3: Disciplinary Committee
Cases that are referred to the Disciplinary Committee are generally the most serious cases or are cases sent on because of repeated infringements. Disciplinary Committee cases are likely to include hearings, with such hearings being held in public. The Disciplinary Committee also has the most stringent powers in that they can exclude an individual from Membership of the IIPA. Possible outcomes at this stage are far more wide-ranging than any of the other options available and include suspension, exclusion, removal of a practising certificate, reprimand, fines and “any other order the the Disciplinary Committee feels is appropriate to the circumstances of the case”.
Decisions of the Disciplinary Committee can be appealed to the Appeals Committee.
STEP 4: Appeals Committee
The complainant and the Member may appeal a decision of the Disciplinary Committee to the Appeals Committee. The Appeals Committee may make any order that the Disciplinary Committee may make.