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The conduct process

Can CIMA take a complaint forward?

The first stage in processing a complaint is to establish whether the complaint is within the remit of CIMA’s regulatory framework. CIMA provides guidance on what can be investigated as misconduct (what CIMA can investigate). There is also guidance for complainants on options for resolving issues that are not within the CIMA conduct process remit. For example in the case of service disputes between clients and CIMA members in practice, the complainant would be given information about alternative dispute resolution.

Once it has been established that a complaint or an allegation of misconduct falls within the scope of the conduct system the case can progress through the conduct process.

A conduct case may take many months to conclude. This is because allegations of misconduct are reviewed thoroughly by the conduct committees and the member or registered student is given set amounts of time to prepare at each stage CIMA will keep complainants and respondents informed of progress.

Supporting evidence

The second stage is to establish whether what has been provided by way of supporting documentation to enable the investigation committee to reach an initial view on a complaint of misconduct. If there is insufficient to support the allegation, this will be communicated to the complainant. CIMA provides guidance on the type of evidence that typically may be expected.

Please note though that staff do not evaluate the evidence submitted; that function is carried out initially by the investigation committee who reserve the right to ask further questions or request more evidence as they see fit.

The complaint summary

The complainant provides a summary of the complaint on the notification of complaint form. The formal articulation of the complaint – ie setting out the specifics of the complaint and which institute laws are alleged to have been breached is drafted by the conduct team to ensure fairness and consistency of approach across all complaints.

The summary is then sent to the member or registered student against whom the complaint has been made and they are given an opportunity to respond and provide evidence of their own to refute the allegation. The complaint, the response and all supporting evidence is then submitted to the investigation committee. 

The investigation committee

Once a complaint is submitted to the Investigation committee, the committee will decide whether there is a prima facie case to answer. If there is no prima facie case the complaint will go no further. When the committee determines that there is a prima facie case they may decide:

  • That no further action should be taken.
  • To offer the respondent a sanction by way of a consent order (this is an opportunity to admit to misconduct and accept a sanction without the need to progress to a full disciplinary hearing).
  • To submit the complaint to the disciplinary committee.
  • In cases of significant public interest, to submit the complaint to CIMA’s regulator the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

For further information: Investigation-Committee-Guidance-Notes-2015 (PDF 247KB)

The disciplinary committee

If a case is considered by the investigation committee to be too serious to be dealt with, or where the member or student has not accepted a consent order, the complaint is referred to the disciplinary committee.

The committee can impose a range of other sanctions including fines, and may order that part or all of the costs incurred by CIMA are paid by the member or student concerned. In serious cases of misconduct, the disciplinary committee can expel a member from membership or cancel a student's registration with CIMA.

Disciplinary committee hearings are generally open to the public and press. Any case referred to CIMA’s disciplinary committee hears cases at central London locations. Any member of the public wishing to attend a future hearing should contact prof.conduct@aicpa-cima.com by 5pm UK time at least two working days before the disciplinary committee hearing.

You should read the CIMA-Public-Hearing-Guidance-Note (PDF 282KB) before arranging to attend a disciplinary committee hearing.

Adverse findings made against members and students by the conduct committees are reported in the media and listed on CIMA’s published decisions page.

Further information: Disciplinary-Committee-Rules-2015 (PDF 282KB)

The relationship between the CIMA conduct process and other legal processes

The conduct process is in place to protect the public and maintain confidence in CIMA to maintain high standards of professional behaviour in management accountancy. It is not in place to provide an outcome that can then support a complainant’s attempts to obtain financial or other redress through other legal processes. For this reason, any conduct case may be postponed or halted if other legal processes are invoked and the outcomes of these legal processes will inform the conduct process of CIMA.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) accountancy scheme

The FRC’s conduct committee has oversight over the operation of the disciplinary arrangements and regulatory activities of the accountancy institutes.

The FRC also operates a disciplinary scheme for the accountancy profession independently of the professional bodies to deal with cases of potential misconduct which raise or appear to raise important issues affecting the public interest in the UK. All other cases of potential misconduct continue to be dealt with by the individual institutes.

The appeal committee

The CIMA conduct process is based upon the English judicial system and the respondent has a right to appeal against a determination and/or sanction by either of the conduct committees. CIMA’s appeal committee is entirely independent committee, managed by a separate department within CIMA. There is a set period of time after a conduct committee determination during which a respondent may submit an appeal.

Download the appeal form (PDF 125KB)

Further information: appeals procedure notes (PDF 187KB)

Publication of decisions

Relevant decisions are published in accordance with the Regulations and CIMA's Publications policy 2016