Making a complaint against a member

What to do if you think your CA is in breach of their professional or ethical standards

In brief

  • If you're unable to resolve an issue with a CA, complaints can be escalated to us for investigation.
  • Complaints may be handled by the Professional Conduct Committee, Disciplinary Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal.
  • As a professional association, the scope of our jurisdiction is limited to investigating breaches of ethics, standards, rules and the By Laws.

We take all complaints seriously

We’re committed to ensuring members meet the highest standards of professionalism and performance expected of leading accounting professionals.

It’s an important part of instilling public confidence in the expertise, professionalism and integrity of Chartered Accountants and the profession.

If any member acts in a way that is unacceptable and threatens the reputation of the profession they come under our disciplinary process.

Complaints and disciplinary process

  • Process Overview

    Any complaints or disciplinary matters are handled by the Professional Conduct Committee (“the PCC”), the Disciplinary Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal/Council.

    Their powers and procedures are contained in the following:

    • The By-Laws and the Professional Conduct Regulation
    • The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants Act 1996 (“the NZICA Act”) and NZICA Rules (applicable for complaints about New Zealand resident members).

    The PCC investigates complaints to decide if they should be referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal. It can also issue sanctions against a member and make costs and publicity decisions.

    The PCC’s initial investigation is in writing but it can also require members to appear in person to discuss the complaint. Complainants may also be invited.

    Hearings before the Disciplinary Tribunal and the Appeals Tribunal/Council are formal proceedings. At the Disciplinary Tribunal the PCC is responsible for presenting the case against the member. Either the member or the PCC can appeal Disciplinary Tribunal decisions to the Appeals Tribunal/Council. In both forums, members are entitled to legal representation.

    The PCC also has legal representation. Hearings are heard in public and decisions can be published.

    When a complaint is not referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal, the member and complainant may seek a review by the Reviewer of Complaints. The Reviewer will look at the process followed by the PCC and assess its decision based on the information it had at the time. The Reviewer will report its findings to the parties. It may tell the PCC to reconsider its decision or make recommendations. The Reviewers are lawyers who are independent of the disciplinary bodies and CA ANZ.

    All disciplinary bodies must observe the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness ensuring that fair procedure is followed.

  • Our jurisdiction

    We investigate breaches of ethics, standards, rules and the By-Laws. As a disciplinary jurisdiction, the outcomes available relate to a member’s membership and standing.

    There are slight differences in jurisdiction depending on where the member resides because of different statutory regulation frameworks operating in each country (see below). However the investigation and disciplinary processes are fundamentally the same.

    The disciplinary bodies do not have the powers of a court and can’t order damages, compensation or make criminal findings. They also can’t intervene or overturn a court order or decision by another regulator.

    Chartered Accountants ANZ does not have a fidelity fund. Complainants needing advice about their civil remedies should seek independent legal advice. In some cases it may also be appropriate to refer the matter to another agency such as the police or other statutory regulators.

    We do not investigate complaints that are:

    • anonymous
    • frivolous
    • vexatious
    • an abuse of process
    • related to historical issues no longer practical to investigate
    • of insufficient nature to warrant referral to the member
    • capable of being resolved by referral to an alternative forum and it is reasonable for that to occur

    Fee disputes

    We do not investigate fee disputes where there is no breach of ethical requirements.

    Complaints about ownership/possession of books and records

    While we can investigate complaints about ownership or possession of books and records, we do not have power, unlike the courts, to enforce the return of documents.

    Concurrent investigations by other regulators, government agencies, statutory bodies or the courts

    If other regulators or agencies are considering a member’s conduct at the same time as the PCC, our investigation may be stopped until it is completed. If any adverse finding is made by a court, tribunal or other regulator, the matter should be sent to the PCC for consideration, as the adverse finding may breach ethical standards.

  • Our standards

    The Code of Ethics contains our ethical requirements and is designed to give members clear guidance on minimum standards of acceptable professional conduct. The fact particular behaviours aren’t mentioned doesn’t mean they aren’t expected. Members are expected to follow the code in spirit not just in words. The code applies to all members whatever their sector, industry or stage of membership.

    The Code of Ethics is structured in three parts: Fundamental Principles, Members in Public Practice and Members in Business.

    All members must comply with fundamental principles of

    • integrity
    • objectivity
    • professional competence and due care
    • confidentiality
    • professional behaviour

    Members are also expected to comply with the By-Laws, Regulations, NZICA Act and Rules (New Zealand resident members only) and applicable technical and professional standards, such as the financial reporting or assurance standards. Copies of all applicable standards are available in the Members Handbook.

    Members Handbook

    All standards, ethics and regulations our members adhere to.

    Read more

  • Complaints for Australia or overseas

    The complaints process for members’ operating in Australia and abroad (except New Zealand) is governed by the CA ANZ By-Laws and Professional Conduct Regulation.

    Further information about the procedures followed by the disciplinary bodies in Australia is available to download.

    More information

    Download the information sheets for complainants and members.

    Information for Complainants Information for Members

     

    Make a complaint

    To make a complaint, download and complete the CA ANZ complaint form and send your complaint to us.

    Download formSubmit form

    Members resident in Australia

    In Australia some work performed by accountants is also regulated by other agencies who have primary jurisdiction. These include:

    • Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) You should contact ASIC where you have a complaint, question or concern about the activity of a registered company auditor, self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) auditor, liquidator, receiver, administrator, Australian Financial Services Licensee (AFSL) holder or their authorised representative. ASIC also operates online professional registers where you can check whether the professional you are dealing with is appropriately licensed.
    • Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) You should contact AFSA where you have a complaint, question or concern about the activity of a Registered Trustee regarding the administration of a Part X arrangement under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth).
    • Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) You may contact the TPB if your complaint or concern is in relation to taxation services provided by a registered tax agent.
  • Complaints for New Zealand

    Members of CA ANZ resident in New Zealand also continue to be members of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) and are regulated in accordance with the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants Act 1996 (the NZICA Act) and the NZICA Rules and Code of Ethics.

    As a result, section 5 of the By-Laws (the section related to Professional Conduct) does not apply to members resident in New Zealand where NZICA has jurisdiction (per By-Law 40 and subject to By-Law 41).

    Under By-Law 41, where a member has been subject to certain sanctions imposed by the NZICA Disciplinary Tribunal or Appeals Council, the corresponding sanction under the By-Laws is automatically imposed, with effect from the later of the expiry of any appeal period (if no appeal is received) or the determination of any appeal. These relate to removal and suspensions of membership and certificates of public practice. No separate disciplinary proceedings are required to be undertaken by CA ANZ on the same matter.

    In New Zealand NZICA has primary disciplinary jurisdiction to consider complaints about members who offer accounting services to the public including:

    • Licenced auditors recognised in accordance with the Auditor Regulation Act 2011
    • Qualified Auditors recognised in accordance with the Financial Reporting Act 2013 and NZICA Rules
    • Insolvency Practitioners accredited by CA ANZ
    • Members providing tax advice and holding a tax agency. Complaints can also be made to Inland Revenue about a tax agent
    • Qualified Statutory Accountants recognised under the Financial Reporting Act 2013

    Detailed information about the procedures followed by the disciplinary bodies in New Zealand is available to download here.

    Make a complaint

    To make a complaint, download and complete the NZICA complaint form and submit it to us via email or mail to Professional Conduct and Complaints, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, PO Box 1132, Wellington 6142 New Zealand.

    Download complaints form Submit form

  • Before lodging a complaint

    Many complaints arise from misunderstandings or a lack of communication. If possible, raise your concerns directly in writing with the member and see whether you can come to some kind of resolution. Members in public practice must have policies and procedures to deal appropriately with complaints. When you contact the member, explain why you are dissatisfied and give them an opportunity to explain and/or propose a solution.

    Where the results of the investigation indicate the complaint is wholly or partly justified, the member or firm should consider appropriate measures to resolve the complaint. This could include additional work to correct errors, apologising, providing information or reducing/refunding fees.

    More information

    For further information please see our Dispute Resolution Toolkit.

    Dispute Resolution Toolkit
  • Making a complaint

    If you can’t resolve the issue, aren’t satisfied with the member’s response or it is a serious matter that should be brought directly to our attention, you should lodge a complaint with the PCC. Please complete the complaint form relevant to the jurisdiction where the member resides (see sections above). You must use our form, however you can attach additional pages if you need more room.

    The forms contains important consents and declarations. These must be completed and signed before any investigation can begin. The PCC does not investigate anonymous complaints.

    Explain your complaint in a clear, logical and easy to follow manner. A timeline of events can be helpful. The PCC will want to understand your detailed concerns about the member’s conduct, when it occurred and any evidence you have which supports your complaint. If your complaint is about more than one member, explain your specific concerns about each member.

    Attach any supporting documents or evidence, such as:

    • Engagement letters or other agreements with the member
    • Documents that show your concerns about the work or services provided
    • Relevant correspondence

    More information

    For further information please see our Complaints Handling Policy.

    Download Policy

     

  • Processing complaints

    Initial review

    • An initial review of the complaint determines if there is jurisdiction to investigate and if any further information from the complainant is required.
    • If the PCC decides not to investigate the complaint, the complainant is told.

    Investigation

    • If the PCC is able to investigate, a copy of the complaint is sent to the member for response.
    • Members have 14 days to respond and provide any further information that has been requested. If more time is needed, they should seek an extension as soon as possible.
    • The member’s response is sent to the complainant for comment and the member has a final right of reply. This will continue until there is sufficient information for a decision to be made about the complaint.
    • In some serious or complex cases, the PCC may appoint an expert investigator. Members are obliged to co-operate with the investigation and provide any information or documentation they are asked for.

    Consideration of the complaint by the PCC

    • Once sufficient information has been obtained from the parties, it will be considered by the PCC.
    • If more information is required the PCC may seek additional information, including a face to face meeting with the member and possibly the complainant.
    • The PCC has a range of sanctions and powers. These are discussed in Possible Outcomes below.
    • Parties are notified of the PCC’s decision within 21 days of the decision being made.

    How long will the investigation take?

    • Investigations usually take 4-9 months. If a matter is complex or if there are delays in obtaining relevant information from the parties, it may take longer.
    • Complaints referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal take approximately 12 months to complete.
  • Face to face meetings

    A meeting with the member (and possibly the complainant) will take place if the PCC considers a more detailed investigation or discussion of the issues with the parties is required (known as case conference or final determination).

    The member will be required to attend and in some cases the complainant may be invited to attend the meeting to participate in the discussion. The meetings are not open to the public and apart from direct parties to the complaint, witnesses do not attend. Parties can bring a support person, such as their colleague or partner. However support people can’t speak without approval of the PCC. This includes any solicitor attending as a support person.

    Prior to the meeting, parties will be sent a list of issues which the PCC wants to focus the discussion around. The meeting will generally take approximately 90 minutes.

    Once the discussion is completed, the parties will leave the meeting so the PCC can make its decision in private. If the PCC is able to reach a decision on the day, the parties will be brought back into the meeting to hear the decision.

    At these meetings the PCC may offer the member sanctions by consent. In this case, the PCC will discuss with the member the sanctions it intends to impose. If the member agrees, the sanctions will be entered on their membership record and the complaint will be closed. If the member does not agree, the complaint will be automatically referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal. Members are given an opportunity to take independent legal advice before agreeing to any sanctions in this way.

    Further information about the type of sanctions that can be imposed by the PCC are explained below in the information on Possible Outcomes.

  • Disciplinary Tribunal

    If the complaint is referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal the member will be issued with a notice of the matters to be heard. The PCC has the onus of proving the case against the member on the balance of probabilities. Evidence is presented from the PCC’s investigation, which can include the calling of witnesses to give evidence about the complaint. This may include the complainant, although in some cases expert witnesses or other witnesses of fact will be called.

    Members may also present evidence in defence, call witnesses and make submissions to the Tribunal. They are also entitled and encouraged to be legally represented. Although the fact that a member does not have a lawyer acting for them does not prevent the hearing from taking place.

    Disciplinary Tribunal hearings are held in public and decisions are generally published with the member’s name and location. Name suppression is granted only in exceptional circumstances. Decisions are generally published on the website, in Acuity and in any other place determined by the Tribunal, such as the local newspaper or in a letter to clients.

    After the hearing, members and complainants are provided with a written notice of the decision, including any sanctions imposed and the reasons for the decision.

    Other matters the Disciplinary Tribunal may consider include applications for:

    • interim suspension where, in the PCC's view, the member poses an immediate risk to the public
    • re-admission to membership if members have been struck off from the register of members.

    Australia and rest of world

    Find out more on the procedures of the Disciplinary Tribunal hearings.

    New Zealand

    Learn more on the procedures of the NZICA Disciplinary Tribunal hearings.

    Disciplinary Tribunal procedures Practice Note on Costs & Expenses
  • Possible outcomes

    PCC

    The PCC can make the following decisions about a complaint:

    • Take no further action
    • Caution the member
    • Convene a case conference / final determination
    • Refer the complaint to the Disciplinary Tribunal for hearing or apply for interim suspension
    • Adjourn the complaint to obtain more information
    • Require the member to pay the costs
    • Offer sanctions by consent with the member to be included on the member’s record, including:
    • Require a quality or practice review be undertaken
    • Require a quality or practice review be undertaken

    The PCC can also offer sanctions by consent with the member to be included on the member’s record, including:

    • Be reprimanded or severely reprimanded
    • Pay a fine
    • Pay costs
    • Complete professional development or engage an adviser or tutor
    • Publicise the decision

    Disciplinary Tribunal and Appeals Tribunal/Council

    Decisions which the Disciplinary Tribunal can make include:

    • Removing the member from the register of members
    • Suspending the member for up to five years
    • Imposing monetary penalties
    • Cancelling or suspending a Certificate of Public Practice
    • Requiring an investigation or review of the member’s practice
    • Requiring the member to complete professional development or engage an adviser or tutor
    • Censuring, reprimanding or severely reprimanding the member
    • Requiring the member to pay costs
    • Cancelling, suspending or varying an audit license issued under the Auditor Regulation Act (New Zealand only)

    The Appeals Tribunal/Council can vary or reverse any decisions by the Disciplinary Tribunal, including decisions related to liability, sanction, costs and publicity.

    Undertakings

    All three disciplinary bodies can seek and accept written undertakings from members to do or refrain from doing any act. Reviewer of Complaints: The Reviewer of Complaints can only make recommendations to the PCC about the decision and the procedure followed in making the decision. Full details of the range of outcomes are set out in the By-Laws and NZICA Rules.

    Reviewer of complaints

    Reviewer of Complaints: The Reviewer of Complaints can only make recommendations to the PCC about the decision and the procedure followed in making the decision.

    More information

    Full details of the range of outcomes are set out in the By-Laws and NZICA Rules.

    Learn more
  • Reviewing a decision

    Reviewer of Complaints

    Members or complainants who are dissatisfied with the way the PCC has handled a complaint or its decision, may make a complaint to the Reviewer of Complaints who is an independent lawyer.

    It is not possible to review the decision to refer the complaint to the Disciplinary Tribunal.

    The Reviewer may decide not to review the complaint if they consider it is frivolous or vexatious, made in bad faith or not made in accordance with the requirements of the By-Laws or NZICA Rules. The Reviewer may direct the PCC to reconsider its decision and may make recommendations as they consider appropriate. Decisions are also reported to the Professional Conduct Oversight Committee or the New Zealand Regulatory Board.

    More information

    Download the following for more information about the Reviewer of Complaints in each jurisdiction.

    Australia and rest of world residentsNew Zealand residents

    Appeal of a Disciplinary Tribunal decision

    If the member or the PCC are dissatisfied with the procedure followed by the Disciplinary Tribunal or its decision, either may apply to the Appeals Tribunal/Council. Complainants are unable to appeal decisions of the Disciplinary Tribunal.

    The Appeals Tribunal/Council has jurisdiction to vary or reverse a decision of the Disciplinary Tribunal. Proceedings are heard in public and there is a presumption that decisions are published.

    Australia process

    Download the following information on how to appeal and the appeal process in Australia including timeframes for lodging an appeal.

    Appeals guidelines Appeals form

    New Zealand process

    Download the following information on how to appeal and the appeal process in New Zealand including timeframes for lodging an appeal.

    Appeals form Appeals guidelines
  • Complaints about Accredited Insolvency Practitioners (New Zealand)

    CA ANZ and the Restructuring Insolvency and Turnaround Association of New Zealand Incorporated (RITANZ) have introduced a self-regulatory regime to improve the ethical standards and professional competency of insolvency practitioners in New Zealand.

    Members of CA ANZ or RITANZ that are accredited under that regime are subject to ethical and professional standards and a disciplinary process:

    • Individuals who are also members of CA ANZ are regulated in accordance with professional and ethical standards and disciplinary process that apply to all members of CA ANZ resident in New Zealand. If you wish to make a complaint, please follow the complaints process for New Zealand resident members.
    • Individuals who are members of RITANZ (who are not also members of CA ANZ) are subject to the NZICA Code of Ethics, Engagement Standard for Insolvency Engagements and related standards, and Rules for New Zealand Insolvency Practitioners Accredited by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. Please complete the complaint form if you would like to make a complaint about a member of RITANZ who is not also a member of CA ANZ.

    RITANZ complaints

    Once you have completed the complaint form you can email or post it to: Professional Conduct & Complaints Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand PO Box 11342 Wellington 6142 New Zealand complaints.RITANZ@charteredaccountantsanz.com

    Complaint formMore information

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