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You are the subject of a complaint

Information and support for ICAEW members, firms and ACA students who are subject to a complaint.

Being the subject of an investigation can be stressful. This section provides information and guidance about how we handle a complaint against an ICAEW member, firm or ACA student (provisional member). 

Most importantly, don’t panic, just because we notify you of a complaint about you, it doesn't automatically mean you’ll be excluded from membership or have to pay a fine with the details published in the pages of economia.

First we assess whether the complaint raises disciplinary issues and needs investigation. If so, one of our very experienced and qualified case managers will investigate it.

Access our guide, How to react if you're the subject of a disciplinary complaint. It’s full of information about the process and what we will need from you

 There is also a list of frequently asked questions which you might find useful to read through.

Support during the investigation

Our Support Members and CABA are here to support you during the process. Our Support Members are experienced ICAEW members who volunteer to help members who are subject to disciplinary investigations. They can help you draft responses to the case manager, explain parts of the process or just give moral support.

You can also call and discuss the case with the case manager. They can provide more detail on the process, timescales and other issues you’re concerned about. However, you should be aware that the case manager still needs to continue the investigation, and information you provide to them may be shared with the Investigation Committee.

I am suffering from a serious medical condition – how can ICAEW support me through this?

We have a number of support services available to you. You may request that your case be considered by our Fitness Committee, which will consider whether you are fit to go through the disciplinary process. During this time, the complaint against you will be put on hold to give adequate time to determine the best way forward.

The committee is supported by a medical assessor and we will pay for you to have an independent medical assessment. CABA and ICAEW Support Members are also available to offer help and support.

Please speak to a member of our Advisory Services team who will put you in contact with one of our Support Members or you can contact CABA directly. If you are suffering from a serious medical condition and would like your case considered by the Fitness Committee, please speak to the ICAEW professional conduct committee secretary, Annabel Joester +44 (0)1908 546 287.


Which complaints are investigated?

About 62% of complaints referred to ICAEW are assessed but are not then formally investigated because they don’t relate to issues that we can or need to consider, eg, the matter doesn’t concern a breach of the bye-laws, regulations or Code of Ethics; or if the individual is not an ICAEW member.

Of those that pass the assessment test:

  • Around 10% are resolved through conciliation – if we can, we facilitate a settlement between our member and their client. Success rates are high and if conciliation is successful, there’s no disciplinary finding against the member
  • 50% cases are closed in investigation – often this is because the member or firm’s response shows there is no misconduct
  • 30% are referred to an independent Investigation Committee (IC) – the committee will consider the complaint and what our member or firm says about it. Then the committee will either decide what action to take or that there is no case to answer. More than half the cases the IC considers are resolved by the member accepting a disciplinary finding and agreeing a consent order or a caution
  • Referral to the Disciplinary Committee – the IC refers the remaining cases (generally the most serious) to a tribunal of the Disciplinary Committee for a hearing. Most hearings are open to the public.


We publish details of consent orders and cases upheld by a tribunal on our website and in economia magazine.

Useful resources