Rules and regulations
1. Admittance of Members
2. Professional and Ethical Conduct
5. Equal Opportunities
6. Practicing Certificates
These regulations were reviewed and revised by the Council on 9th February 2011.
1. Admittance of Members
1.1. Form of membership application
1.1.1. Applications for membership shall be in the manner and on such application forms as the Practice and Compliance Committee requires.
- Certified copies of academic/professional qualifications.
- The appropriate fees (cheques or postal orders, but not cash). They will be refunded in the event of the application being unsuccessful. Cheques should be made payable to "Certified Public Accountants Association."
- References will help the Association make a quick reply.
1.1.2. The applicant must demonstrate and satisfy the Practice and Compliance Committee that they are suitable for admission into membership in accordance with these regulations.
1.1.3. The Practice and Compliance Committee’s decision relating to all matters regarding the admission of members shall be final.
1.2.1. There are three grades of membership.
- Fellow. Fellows must be over twenty five. They should hold the Association’s Diploma in Accounting Practice or Diploma in Management Accounting or hold such other qualifications which are, in the opinion of the Council of Management, equivalent.
- Associate. Associates must be over twenty one. They should hold the Association’s Certificate in Accounting Practice or Certificate in Management Accounting or such other qualifications which are, in the opinion of the Council of Management, equivalent.
1.3.1. The Council may terminate a person’s membership by giving thirty days notice in writing.
1.3.2. Applicants shall have three years approved practical experience.
1.3.3. Members must keep abreast of developments and changes in the accountancy profession through continuing professional development (CPD), as approved by the Council’s Practicing Committee, for example, through the Association’s own CPD programme.
1.3.4. A member may withdraw from membership by giving at least seven clear days notice to the Association. Membership shall not be transferable.
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2. Professional and Ethical Conduct
2.1. Ethical Conduct
2.1.1. MThe Association has adopted the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants 2010 edition. All members must abide by this code in the running of their practice. Failure to comply will result in disciplinary acation being taken against members breaching this code. A copy can be downloaded at www.ifac.org
2.1.2. Members must behave in an ethical and legal manner within the Association and in their professional life.
2.2. Dealing with Clients
2.2.1. Clients and professional advisers have a right to expect that their affairs are handled with accuracy, in a timely way and with professional competence and discretion.
2.2.2. The normal basis of charge for services to a client is by time spent on the work at an appropriate hourly rate. The rate should vary between the practitioner and his staff according to their status and qualifications. Members may alternatively charge a fixed fee for performance of an agreed body of responsibilities. The client is entitled to an adequate explanation of the fee charged by the member if the client queries it.
2.2.3. Members must have in place relevant letters of engagement.
2.3. Property of Clients and Members
2.3.1. A client's money or other property, whilst in the possession of the member, remains the property of the client.
2.3.2. A member who receives money from a client for his account or from a third party for the account of the client should hold the money in a client bank account. Any interest should be for the account of the client. No permission should be given to the bank for a right of set off against the member's bank accounts. If a member has authority from the client he may make payments from the client's money to third parties.
2.3.3. If a member wishes to charge his client a fee or reimbursement of expenses, he should first send the client an invoice for his approval.
2.3.4. The majority of the working papers of a member are his own property and may always be retained by him. The member may have rights to use papers which he receives from the client himself, such as his books of account, or from third parties such as HMRC or information requested from a professional advisor (for example when transferring records when changing accountants). The member holds the papers as agent for the client and must give them up if the client wishes to have them returned.
2.3.5. Members are advised to seek appropriate legal advice if they decide to withhold a client's books and records until charges are paid for work done.
2.4.1. Members should respect their clients’ (and past clients’) confidentiality.
- If the client consents to a disclosure.
- A requirement to report suspicious transactions under Money Laundering Regulations.
- A Court Order, summons or subpoena.
2.4.2. Members must make sure that clients’ files and records are stored in a safe and secure manner.
2.5. Clients’ Tax Affairs and Money Laundering
2.5.1. Members are advised that if they are supervised by the Association under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 then they must apply the Anti-Money Laundering Guidance for the Accountancy Sector issued by the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB) issued in August 2008 and any subsequent updates. Failure to comply will result in disciplinary action being take against members failing to implement its recommendations. A copy can be downloaded from www.ccab.org.uk
2.5.2. If a member believes the accounts he is preparing do not give a true and fair view he should indicate his reservations in his report on the accounts and if necessary refuse to sign them.
2.5.3. If a member completes and submits a tax return on behalf of client, the member should make it clear to the client that it is the client who is responsible for the content and any omissions.
2.5.4. HMRC will accept tax returns signed by the member as agent. However it is prudent to obtain the client's consent in writing or by email.
2.6.1. Members may advertise their services provided advertisements are consistent with professional good taste. Members should not attempt to mislead or imply particular skills or expertise that the member does not in fact possess.
2.6.2. In advertisements:
- a) Members may only use the term "Certified Public Accountant" or the letters "ACPA" or "FCPA" in any advertisement if they hold a current Practising certificate.
- b) Members or Regulated Person may only use the term “Incorporated Practising Accountant” or letters “ASPA” or “FSPA” in connection with any advertisement if they hold a current Practising certificate.
2.7. Death or Incapacity of a Sole Practitioner
2.7.1. Members are required to make arrangements for the continued conduct of their practice in case they die or become incapacitated.
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3.1. Liability to Disciplinary Action
3.1.1. A member will be liable to disciplinary action if a complaint about them is made to the Association. A complaint may be made if any of these byelaws are thought to have been broken by the member. A member will also be liable to disciplinary action following a legal conviction which discredits the Association, for example false accounting or failing to settle a County Court Judgement.
3.1.2. A member will be liable to disciplinary action if he has been found guilty of any offence in any court of competent jurisdiction whose judgements are enforceable in the United Kingdom. Any member who has acted fraudulently or dishonestly will be subject to disciplinary action. The findings of a court in any criminal or civil proceedings will be treated as proof of misconduct.
3.1.3. If the complaint is in the public domain then the member will face a charge of ‘Bringing the Association into Disrepute’. If the complaint is not in the public domain then the member or student will face a charge of ‘Conduct Unbecoming a Member’.
3.1.4. Every member has a duty to bring to the attention of the Investigation Officer any facts or matters indicating that a member or student may have become liable to disciplinary action. Every member must co-operate with the Investigations Officer, Disciplinary Commission or Appeals Board as far as possible.
3.1.5. A Member will be subject to disciplinary action if they fail to comply with:
- a) A reasonable request for relevant information by the Association.
- b) Failure to correct procedures which, as a result of a monitoring review, are deemed to be deficient by the reviewer.
- c) Failure to disclose, or provides false, information upon which the Association relies upon for regulation purposes.
- d) Failure to implement adequate procedures to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and ammendments thereto.
3.2. Disciplinary Procedures
3.2.1. The Council appoints the Investigation Officer, the Disciplinary Committee, and the Appeals Board.
3.2.2. No person will be a member of the Disciplinary Commission and the Appeals Board at the same time.
3.2.3. If the Disciplinary Commission or Appeals Board does not comply with the requirements of the byelaws, the Council will make fresh appointments as soon as practicable.
3.2.3. The Council, when appointing a Disciplinary Commission or Appeals Board, may also appoint a lay observer. The lay observer will report to the Council on the Association's investigatory and disciplinary procedures. The Council will have power to pay remuneration and reasonable expenses to any member of the Commission or Board.
3.3. Investigation Officer
3.3.1. The Council will appoint the Investigation Officer and will have power to pay them remuneration and the reasonable expenses.
3.3.2. The Investigation Officer will have power to make necessary procedures in order to perform their duties.
3.3.3. Following a complaint, the Investigation Officer will make appropriate enquiries and then decide whether, in his opinion, the complaint gives rise to or includes questions of public concern. If he considers the complaint is sufficiently serious, he will refer it to the Disciplinary Commission Chairman for appropriate action. Every member must provide such information and evidence as he is able to give.
3.3.4. The Investigation Officer will have the power to attempt a settlement of any complaint without reference to disciplinary action. Any settlement agreed will be reported to the Disciplinary Commission Chairman.
3.3.5. The Investigation Officer may give the member an opportunity of being heard before him.
3.3.6. If the member has criminal or civil proceedings pending, which the Investigation Officer believes relate to the subject of his investigation, then the Officer must postpone his investigation.
3.3.7. If the Investigation Officer believes that a case amounting to misconduct has rendered a member liable to disciplinary action he will provide the Commission with a summary of the facts and matters which were brought before him.
3.3.8. If the Investigation Officer believes that the facts presented to him indicate that a member may be or may have been managing their practice inefficiently or has been acting inefficiently or incompetently in their professional work, he may, advise that member obtains advice from such source as the Officer may decide. If the member fails to seek such assistance when advised to do so, that fact will be recorded.
3.3.9. After referring any complaint to the Disciplinary Commission Chairman, the Investigation Officer may make further investigations and enquiries and collect such further evidence as they consider appropriate to enable the complaint to be presented fully to the Disciplinary Commission.
3.4. Disciplinary Commission
3.4.1. The Disciplinary Commission will consist of such number as the Council considers appropriate but it will not be less than three persons. The quorum for any meeting of the Commission shall be two. The Council may pay remuneration and reasonable expenses to members of the Commission.
3.4.2. The Commission will have the power to introduce any procedures that they consider necessary in order to perform their functions.
3.4.3. When a complaint by the Investigations Officer is referred to the Disciplinary Commission, the Chairman of the Commission will notify the member concerned of the nature of the complaint and of the time and place fixed for the hearing.
3.4.4. The defendant will be entitled to be heard before the Commission and allowed to be represented by such persons as they may wish. They will be able to call witnesses and to cross examine witnesses called against them.
3.4.5. If the defendant does not attend the hearing (and notice had been given) then the Commission may proceed to hear the complaint without the defendant being present.
3.4.6. Where a formal complaint has been referred by an Investigation Officer or Disciplinary Commission Chairman, the Commission will treat as proved any facts or opinions set out by the Investigation Officer in his findings.
3.4.7. If related criminal or civil proceedings are pending to which the defendant is a party, the Disciplinary Commission must postpone the hearing of the complaint.
3.4.8 The Investigation Officer will present the formal complaint to the Disciplinary Commission or they may instruct a lawyer to present such complaint. The Commission may appoint a lawyer to act as legal adviser on the hearing of any formal complaint.
3.4.9. After receiving notice of the hearing, the defendant may choose to give notice to the Association in writing admitting that the complaint against them is completely true. In this case, the defendant would not be required to appear before the Disciplinary Committee. Such a letter may be accompanied by a submission which the defendant wishes to be taken into account by the Disciplinary Commission when deciding what disciplinary procedure to invoke. The Chairman may choose to hear the complaint alone, without referring the matter to the Commission.
3.4.10. If the Disciplinary Commission finds the complaint against the defendant to be true in whole or in part, they will make a finding to that effect. In that event they may:
- admonish and issue a warning as to future conduct;
- reprimand and issue a warning as to future conduct;
- severely reprimand and issue a warning as to future conduct;
- suspend or expel the member;
- impose a fine;
- require the defendant to make whatever restitution, or compensation, the Committee thinks appropriate;
- report the findings to the Council. They may consider reporting the case to the appropriate authorities for possible prosecution.
3.4.11. If the Investigating Officer or the Disciplinary Commission decide that no such action is appropriate, they may decide that no further action should be taken in the case. They may direct the defendant to obtain advice from such source as the Committee may consider appropriate.
3.4.12. If a complaint is proved against the student he may be removed from the student register or be disqualified from any examination by the Chairman of the Disciplinary Commission.
3.4.13. If the defendant wishes to appeal against the decision of the Officer, Chairman or Commission such appeal should be sent to the Company Secretary within twenty eight days from the date the ruling is made. Upon receiving an appeal the Company Secretary will refer the matter for hearing before the Appeals Board. Notice of the hearing will be notified to the defendant.
3.5. Appeals Board
3.5.1. For the purposes of this section the defendant will be referred to as the ‘appellant’. Within 28 days of the decision of the Disciplinary Commission, the appellant may appeal against the decision. The notice of appeal must be in writing and addressed to the Secretary. The notice must state which findings or decision the appeal is against and on what grounds.
3.5.2. The appeal will be heard by the Appeals Board. The Appeals Board will consist of three members of the Council. The quorum for any meeting of the Board will be two. The Council may pay remuneration and the reasonable expenses of the Board.
3.5.3. The Board will have the power to introduce any procedures that they consider necessary in order to perform their functions.
3.5.4. The Appeals Board Chairman will notify the appellant of the time and place of the hearing. The appellant shall be entitled to be heard before the Board and shall be permitted to be represented by such persons as he may wish and to call witnesses and to cross examine witnesses called against them.
3.5.5. If the defendant does not attend the hearing then provided that the Board is satisfied that sufficient notice was given, the Board may proceed to hear the appeal without the appellant. Where any related criminal or civil proceedings are pending to which the appellant is a party, the Appeal Board may choose to postpone the hearing of the appeal.
3.5.6. The Investigation Officer will present the formal complaint to the Appeals Board or they may instruct a lawyer to present the complaint. The Board may appoint a lawyer to act as legal adviser on the hearing of any appeal.
3.5.7. An appellant may as part of his appeal give notice that he desires the appeal to be heard without him. Such notice may be accompanied by a statement which the appellant wishes to be taken into account by the Appeals Board when deliberating upon his appeal. Where the notice of appeal contains such a statement, the Board may proceed to hear and dismiss the appeal in the absence of the appellant.
3.5.8. The Appeals Board will take into consideration any evidence given or documents produced to the Disciplinary Commission on its hearing of the formal complaint. They may choose to rehear any witness called before the Commission or receive any new evidence it considers appropriate.
3.5.9. On appeal, the Appeals Board may confirm, alter or strike out any decision of the Disciplinary Commission and may substitute any decision the Appeals Board considers appropriate.
3.5.10. A decision of the Appeals Board will become effective as from the date of the original decision by the Disciplinary Commission and will be final.
3.5.11. Notice of the decision of the Appeals Board will be sent to the appellant by registered post to his last known address and will be notified to the Council.
3.6. Costs and Fines of Disciplinary Proceedings
3.6.1. The defendant will pay the costs and fines of the disciplinary proceedings as determined by the Disciplinary Commission. The Disciplinary Commission will take into account any reduction in the costs of dealing with the complaint against the defendant which is a result of the defendant's co-operation with the investigation.
3.6.2. Any such costs and fines must be paid within twenty eight days from the date of the service upon the defendant of the decision. If the defendant lodges an appeal against the decision the costs shall not be payable until the determination of the appeal and then subject to any order made by the Appeals Board.
3.6.3. Where the appeal is against a decision made by the Disciplinary Commission that the defendant be suspended or expelled, any costs and fines ordered by the Disciplinary Commission shall be paid to the Association before the appeal will be heard by the Appeals Board.
3.6.4. There will be no right of appeal solely on the grounds of costs, fines or compensation award.
3.6.5. The Appeals Board may reduce any costs, fines or compensation set by the Disciplinary Committee.
3.6.6. The defendant will pay the costs and fines of the appeal proceedings as determined by the Appeals Board. In determining what sum shall be paid by the defendant under this section, the Appeals Board will take into account any reduction in the costs and fines of dealing with the complaint against the defendant which is a result of the defendant's co-operation with the investigation.
3.6.7. Any such costs and fines will be paid within twenty eight days from the date of the service upon the defendant of the decision.
3.6.8. The Disciplinary Commission or the Appeals Board may resolve that the cost of disciplinary and or appeal proceedings be borne by the Association.
3.7. Publication of Decisions
3.7.1. The Disciplinary Commission and Appeals Board will order the publication of its findings and its decision as soon as practicable and in such manner as it thinks fit.
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4.1. Examination Dates
4.1.1. Details of examination dates and venues are available from the Administrator.
4.2. Modular System of Examination, and Conditions of Entry
4.2.1. Candidates will receive a credit for each paper in which the pass mark is achieved and will therefore be required to re-sit only those papers in which they have been unsuccessful. In no circumstances may the papers of one part be taken with those of the next, as all papers are taken on the same days.
4.2.2. Credits can be retained, although they will be kept under review and time limits imposed if necessary.
4.3. Notes on the examination
4.3.1. Questions involving knowledge of new legislation will not be asked within six months of the passing of the relevant legislation. Subsequently, questions will become progressively more detailed.
4.3.2. In the answers to the examination questions, candidates are expected to comply with the best accounting practices as given in the Statements of Standard Accounting Practice (SSAPs) issued by the accounting standards committee and relevant to the syllabus. Part of the grading of the papers is for writing skills including spelling, punctuation and plain English.
4.3.3. Equipment for the exam:
- Details of tax notes and allowances will be supplied to candidates sitting the taxation papers.
- Candidates are permitted to use simple pocket calculators. No memory or scientific type calculators are allowed.
- Candidates are permitted to use charting templates as required.
4.4. Applications for registration as a student
4.4.1. All students/members are welcome to call to Head Office at any time for information regarding their application or for information on the Association.
4.4.2. All application forms must be sent to Head Office. Applicants should also enclose:
- Certified copies of academic/professional qualifications.
- The appropriate fees (cheques or postal orders, but not cash. They will be refunded in the event of the application being unsuccessful. Cheques should be made payable to "Certified Public Accountants Association."
- References will help the Association make a quick reply.
4.4.3. Generally the Practice and Compliance Committee will give a reason if they refuse an application.
4.4.4. Certificates of membership remain at all times the property of the Association.
4.5. Scheme of Examinations and Syllabus
4.5.1. Details of the examinations offered by the Association and the syllabus are available on the website. All examinations will be conducted according to English law.
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5. Equal Opportunities
5.1.1. The Association is committed to equality of opportunity in education and employment. We will not discriminate on the grounds of sex, marital or parental status, race, ethnic or national origin, religious belief, colour, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or age.
5.1.2. We welcome diversity of origin, background and experience amongst the staff and student community.
5.2. Compliance with Legislation
5.2.1. The Association will meet all statutory obligations under relevant legislation and, where appropriate, anticipate future legal requirements signalled under EU Directives. The Association will also take account of any codes of practice created under this legislation.
5.3. Elimination of Discrimination
5.3.1. No applicant, member, student, member of staff or visitor will be treated less favourably on the above grounds or will be disadvantaged by conditions or requirements which have a disproportionately adverse effect on his or her group which cannot be shown to be justifiable other than on the grounds stated.
5.3.2. With respect to staff, selection criteria and procedures will be frequently reviewed to ensure that individuals are selected, promoted and treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities.
5.3.3. Disabled applicants who meet essential criteria in the opinion of the full selection panel will not be subject to assessment in competition with other candidates at the short listing stage and will automatically be invited for interview.
5.3.4. Selection criteria for students will ensure that individuals are considered on the basis of relevant qualifications for courses and programmes.
5.4. Equal Opportunities Policy Statement
5.4.1. The progress of students will not be influenced by matters which are irrelevant to their merits and abilities. Where appropriate the Association will seek advice from those groups and communities whose needs it seeks to meet.
5.4.2. The Association will endeavour to ensure that all of its statements are made in non-discriminatory language.
5.4.3. The association will comply with all relevant legislation and codes of practice created under the legislation.
5.5. Promotion of Equal Opportunities
5.5.1. The Association is committed to the promotion of equal opportunities in a positive way and to the establishment of a culture of equality of opportunity.
5.5.2. All members of staff and students will be expected to conduct themselves with proper respect for others and for their lawful choices. Mechanisms will be put in place to deal with overt acts of harassment or discrimination.
5.5.3. All employees will be given equal access to career development opportunities.
5.5.4. All members of the community have a responsibility to adhere to the legal, policy and moral requirements embodied in this document.
5.6.1. The Chief Executive is responsible to the Council for the implementation of the policy across the Association and for allocating necessary resources.
5.6.2. The Academic Board and examinations committee are responsible for following this policy when admitting students and setting the curriculum and programmes of study.
5.6.3. The Chair of Human Resources is responsible for following this policy in all matters relating to employment.
5.6.4. The Chair of Membership Services is responsible for the overall promotion of this policy as it affects members and students.
5.6.5. The Human Resources Committee are responsible for the monitoring of the implementation of the policy and for advising the Chairman on specialist matters relating to equality of opportunity.
5.7. A Policy Statement on International Students
5.7.1. The Association welcomes the participation by students from abroad in all of its activities. It recognises the valuable contribution they make to the Association -educational, cultural and financial.
5.7.2. The Association will actively engage in the recruitment of international students and encourage involvement in projects overseas and the development of links with governments, educational institutions and companies in other countries.
5.7.3. The Association will ensure appropriate provision for its international students (prospective and current).
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6. Practising Certificates
6.1.1. A member who is in the employ of a practising public accountant is not required to hold a Practising Certificate unless they wish to do so voluntarily and with the agreement of the Practising Committee. They cannot use the association’s designation or the association’s designatory letters in connection with the practice in which they are employed or give any indication that they are members of the Association other than, at the discretion of the Practising Committee and or the Council, on personal business cards or other stationery.
6.1.2. A member who is in practice, but chooses for commercial or other reasons not to use the association’s designation or the association’s designatory letters, or does not indicate in any way that he is a member of the association, other than at the discretion of the Practising Committee, on business cards and other stationery is not required to have a Practising Certificate.
6.1.3. A member who wishes to use the designation Certified Public Accountant or the designatory letters when offering services as a practising public accountant must have a current Practising Certificate.
6.1.4. For a firm to use the Association’s designation all the partners or directors must be members of the Association and hold a current Practising certificate.
6.1.5. Practising certificates are issued annually for the period 6th April until the 5th April the following year, or on a calendar year basis.
6.1.6. Applicants for Practising Certificates must hold appropriate professional indemnity insurance for the size of their practice and have completed the required amount of continuing professional education. Applications should be made in the manner required by the Council and be accompanied by the appropriate fee.
6.1.7. Members using the designation "Certified Public Accountant" or designatory letters who do not have a valid Practising Certificate will be the subject of disciplinary procedures. These could result in a fine, suspension or expulsion.
6.1.8. A member cannot practice as a registered auditor without authorisation from the appropriate authority. The appropriate authorisation must be that they are a member of a recognised qualifying body under the Companies Act 2006.
6.1.9. The Council may refuse to register a member’s firm under any name which is (in the opinion of the Council) immoral, flippant; misleading, unlawful or inappropriate.
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"Appeals Board" means a group of people appointed from the Council of the Management of the Association to make decisions on disciplinary appeals procedures.
"appropriate academic qualifications" means qualifications which the Council considers appropriate.
"approved practical experience" means accountancy experience which in the opinion of the Council is considered appropriate: a minimum of three years qualified accountancy practice.
"Association" means the Certified Public Accountants Association (Co No 03448159) and/or the Society of Practising Accountants Ltd (Co No 04236045) their predecessors and/or successors.
"association’s designation2 means Certified Public Accountant/s and/or Incorporated Practising Accountant.
"association’s designatory letters" means FCPA, ACPA and/or FSPA and ASPA.
"Client" means a person or firm who engages the members to attend to his accountancy, business or taxation affairs.
"Disciplinary Commission" means members appointed by the Council to make decisions on disciplinary cases.
"Examination Centre" means a place approved by the Council for the conduct of examinations.
"firm" means a partnership or an incorporated company.
"Investigation Officer" means person appointed by the Council to investigate disciplinary cases.
"Member" means a person who is or has been a member of the Association, within the meaning of the Act.
"Student" means a person entered on the register of registered students."
"the Act" means the Companies Act 1985 and 1989 as amended by the Companies Act 2006 and/or its successor/s.
"the bye-laws" means the bye-laws of the Association from time to time in force.
"the Council" means the Council of Management of the Association.
Words implying the masculine gender shall also include the feminine and words in the singular shall include the plural and vice versa.
ACPA – Associate of the Certified Public Accountants Association
ASPA – Associate of the Society of Practising Accountants Ltd
FCPA – Fellow of the Certified Public Accountants Association
FSPA – Fellow of the Society of Practising Accountants Ltd
HMRC – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs
SSAPs - Statements of Standard Accountancy Practice