We take all issues and concerns very seriously. Whether this relates to one of our Members or the Association as an organisation.
We know that things don’t always go how they’re supposed to. CPAA is an organisation committed to high professional standards both for us and our Members.
Below we outline how to raise concerns about a CPAA Member and how to let us know if you feel the Association or one of its representatives has not acted properly.
Complain about a Member
If you feel one of our Members hasn’t acted properly you can lodge a complaint with us. We encourage you to carefully read this page to make sure that submitting a complaint to us is the best course of action. If you decide to submit a complaint you will need to put it in writing by emailing email@example.com.
Your complaint must contain a written statement as to what has happened. This can be a separate MS Word document, a PDF or contained within the body of the email. The statement should provide the following information:
- Any details of the Member you can provide to help us identify them (name, practice name, address, email, membership number)
- Background as to your relationship with the Member (are you a client, a friend, another accountant)
- Details of what has happened and why you feel it is not right
It will help us if you are able to submit any supporting documents by email. For example, you may have email correspondence, phone logs or letters to support your complaint.
We aim to acknowledge receipt of complaints within five working days. Once received we will evaluate if we can investigate your complaint. If we cannot investigate, we will try to signpost you to the most appropriate organisation.
If we can investigate your complaint we will present your written complaint to the Member concerned. We can remove certain Personal Identifiable Information (such as your address, or phone number), but we cannot present a complaint anonymously to our Member. Our Member will have a right to respond and we will make further investigations
While handling complaints we can only corresponded through the firstname.lastname@example.org inbox. We cannot accept phone calls. If there is a legitimate reason preventing you from being able to email us, we may make a reasonable adjustment, on request, to allow correspondence by post.
Where possible we aim to arrive at an agreed course of action between the Member and the complainant (mediation). Though this is not always possible and we may need to issue a judgement. Our judgements are issued on the balance of probability.
The investigation of complaints is the responsibility of the Disciplinary Investigating Officer, who is appointed by the Board of Trustees.
What complaints can you investigate?
There are some complaints that we will be unable to investigate. Where we cannot investigate, we will aim to let you know as soon as possible.
We cannot investigate the following:
- Complaints against accountants who are not Members of the CPAA
- Issues which are currently, or in our opinion likely, to go to court (whether criminal or civil)
- If the Member is subject to a criminal investigation related to, or possibly related to, the issue
- The complaint has already been investigated
- Anonymous complaints
Even if we cannot investigate the issue, we can retain internal notes on it to help inform our compliance work with our Member.
We may have to cease an investigation if, during the course of the investigation, we discover that the Member has committed a crime. We will then refer the issue to the relevant law enforcement. In some circumstances, we may be only able to provide limited information on this.
How long does the complaints process take?
The length of time it takes us to investigate a complaint will depend upon the complexity of the case, case volume and the speed at which our Member and the complainant respond/provide information. Some complaints can be resolved in around a month, while others can take several months.
What sanctions can you impose on your Member?
CPAA can impose the following sanctions:
- admonish the Member;
- admonish the Member and publish details of The Complaint;
- fine the Member an amount no less than £500 and no more than £10,000
- expel the Member from the Association
Do I need a legal representative?
No. Though you may appoint someone to help you or represent you.
I have lost money, can you award compensation or costs?
No. While we can fine our Member if we determine they have failed to meet our standards, we cannot award costs or compensation to either a complainant or our Member. If you have lost money as a result of actions taken (or not taken) by our Member, you should explore taking action to recover the losses through the courts here (https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money)
If you do take the issue to the courts and they determine our Member is liable, please let us know by emailing email@example.com
Review of Judgment
If a judgement is issued both the Member and the complainant have a right for the decision to be reviewed. This request must be made in writing within ten working days and should be accompanied by a written statement explaining why a review of the judgement is being requested. The other party will be given an opportunity to provide a statement as well.
These statements, a report from the Disciplinary Investigating Officer, the original compliant, response, all correspondence and evidence gained during the investigation are collated and anonymised. They are given to a Disciplinary Review Panel, which is formed of three persons who cannot be current or former employees or Trustees of the CPAA. The members of the Panel are randomly selected from a group of suitable people who sit on the Disciplinary Commission. All members of the Disciplinary Commission are lay Members of the Association or non-Members.
Disciplinary reviews conducted under this process are not tribunals. No party is given the opportunity to speak to the Panel. The Panel is there to review the decision arrived at by the Disciplinary Investigating Officer. The Panel may decide on a simple majority to support the decision or may amend the judgment. The Panel has sixty working days to arrive at its decision.
What sanctions can a Panel impose?
A Disciplinary Review Panel can impose the following sanction:
- Admonish the Member
- Admonish the Member and publish details of the compliant
- Fine the Member an amount no less than £1,500 and no more than £25,000
- Expel the Member from the Association
Please note that the Panel has greater scope to impose more severe fines than the Disciplinary Investigating Officer.
How are Members of the Panel selected?
Members of the Panel are selected at random from members of the Disciplinary Commission. In randomly selecting members the Association will input a list of Commission members into a Python program and use the Python Random function to select members of the Panel.
How are members of the Disciplinary Commission selected?
Members of the Commission are lay Members of the Association who have volunteered or non-Member contractors (usually either qualified accountants, solicitors or other professionals).
Members of the Commission who are Members of the Association must be Members in good standing. No current or former Trustee or employee of the CPAA may serve on the Commission.
Where does the Disciplinary Review Panel meet?
Members of the Disciplinary Review Panel will not normally meet. Each member of the Panel will review the case and arrive at a decision, which they will communicate to the Chair of the Panel, who is randomly selected from the three members of the Panel. Members of the Panel may share ideas/questions by email.
In complex cases the Panel may meet via Zoom or in exceptional cases may meet in person at a location agreed by the Company Secretary.
Can I see minutes of the Panel’s meetings?
No. The Panel’s review is conducted anonymously. Any minutes are retained by the Association and can be reviewed by the Trustees or the Association’s management but will not be made public.
Can I see a list of the Commission members?
A list of the names of the current Commission members can be obtained by emailing the Company Secretary (Lee Haywood, firstname.lastname@example.org). Only names are details of whether or not they are Members of the CPAA can be provided.
Our Members must be fit and proper persons
What to do if you know something about one of our Members
Sometimes a formal complaint may not be the right way to let us know something isn’t right. If you know something that you think we should know about one of our Members please email email@example.com. You can do this anonymously, but we cannot let you know what happens after we receive your information.
If you know something that would likely mean one of our Members is not a fit and proper person please let us know.
Fit and Proper Person
A fit and proper person is someone who has:
i. Never been expelled by a professional body for any reason
ii. Not been made bankrupt within the last ten  years
iii. Not entered into a voluntary agreement with creditors within the last ten  years
iv. Not had a county court judgment made against them, or a company from which they provide accountancy services, within the last ten  years
v. Not served as a Director of a company which has been made insolvent within the last ten  years
vi. Not been prevented within the last ten (10) years from acting as a director of a corporate entity in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or the Republic of Ireland or; Has signed an undertaking not to act as a director of a company in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or the Republic of Ireland
vii. Never been found guilty of a criminal offence in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man the Channel Islands or the Republic of Ireland Have no unspent criminal convictions.
viii. Never been found guilty of a money laundering or terrorist financing offence in any jurisdiction in the world
ix. Never been entered onto the ‘Financial Sanctions: consolidated list of targets’ published by HM Treasury
Let us know if we've not met your standards
What to do if you're not happy with the CPAA
If you do not feel that a CPAA representative (whether a volunteer, employee or contractor) has acted against our high standards, please email details to the Operations Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If your issue concerns the Operations Manager you can make a complaint in writing to the Chairman. These complaints should be posted to 105-109 New Street, Blackrod, Bolton, BL65AG.
Once received we will investigate and decide upon a course of action to put things right. If you are not happy with these actions, the issue will be raised at a meeting of the Board of Trustees. If your issue concerns a Trustee, they will not be permitted to participate or attend the portion of the meeting devoted to discussing the issue. The Board of Trustees may appoint an independent third party to review the issue and to make recommendations.
We cannot explore issues which have already been explored, nor will we be able to investigate an issue which we feel is being raised maliciously or otherwise in bad faith. A decision not to investigate, will be made by the Operations Manager in consultation with the Chairman or Deputy. If the issue concerns either the Chairman, Deputy Chairman or Operations Manager, a decision not to investigate will be referred to a non-executive Trustee.