A sanction is a penalty for breaching a law or rule.
CIMA’s approach to sanctions reflects the guiding principles of the conduct process which are to:
- Protect the public.
- Maintain public confidence in the profession of management accountancy.
- Uphold proper standards of conduct in the profession.
- Ensure that CIMA’s conduct processes are effective in dealing with complaints of professional misconduct in the interests of the public and all stakeholders.
A conduct committee will select the sanction that is appropriate and proportionate to the facts found to be proved and in order to protect the public and the profession. Sanctions may be offered at the investigation committee stage or imposed at the disciplinary committee stage.
CIMA’s investigation committee can offer one or more of a limited range of sanctions to members or registered students against whom a prima facie case for misconduct has been established. A sanction offered at the investigation committee stage allows proceedings to be concluded and is known as a consent order. This allows members or registered students to, in effect, admit their offence and accept the consequences without the necessity for a hearing.
Some cases falling within the following types of cases have been dealt with by a consent order:
- Failure to deal effectively with clients' or employers' affairs.
- Failure to deal professionally with the public.
- Conduct which might bring discredit to the Institute.
- Failure to respond appropriately to a superseding accountant.
- Misrepresentation of qualifications to an employer.
- Failure to respond to correspondence from CIMA.
The following sanctions can be offered to the member or registered student at the investigation committee stage to consent to:
- Severe reprimand.
- Fine (maximum GBP2000 for members and GBP500 for registered students).
The sanction will depend on the individual case in question and the member or registered student has the opportunity at this stage to accept the sanction or to reject it and proceed to the disciplinary committee and defend their case at a hearing.
Not all types of misconduct can be concluded with the offer of a consent order – some allegations will be considered sufficiently serious by the investigation committee to be referred directly to the disciplinary committee.
If a complaint of misconduct against a member or registered student is upheld, the disciplinary committee may direct that one or more of the following sanctions be imposed:
- Severe reprimand.
- Fine (presently of an unlimited amount for members and up to GBP2,000 for students).
- Conditional membership, or conditional student registration.
- Suspension or cancellation of registration as a member in practice and withdrawal of the practising certificate.
- Expulsion as a member or cancellation of a student's registration.
The member or registered student may also have to pay part or all of the costs of the proceedings (although this is not a sanction).
The CIMA indicative sanctions guidance (PDF 877KB) and Indicative Sanctions Annexure to Guidance updated February 2021 (PDF 308KB), set out the level of sanction that may typically be offered or imposed. It is used as guidance for the investigation and disciplinary committees although each case of misconduct is considered individually on the evidence provided.