Home' Charter : 0911 Charter Sept Contents September 2011 I Charter 21
in their own ﬁeld but frequently it is the
Chartered Accountants on the panel who
take a harsher view of the potential penalties.
An important point is that the profession’s
disciplinary rules don’t mirror the court
structure in the way cases are heard, in
terms of following the rules of evidence etc,
which means the tribunal can take a broader
view about an issue as it impacts the public
interest and the profession, rather than
possibly being perceived as favouring the
When a case is before the courts and
is following due legal process, then we’re
not in a position to act until that process
has been ﬁnalised – otherwise we would
be in contempt of court. So by then, the
appropriate judicial or regulator’s penalty will
have been imposed.
CHARTER: So the reputational hit is the
deepest cut for members?
JW: The sanctions available to the tribunal
include exclusion from membership, ﬁnes
up to $100,000 and a severe reprimand.
In a professional sense, our professional
colleagues are well aware that a severe
reprimand is quite a serious black mark
against that member’s name.
CHARTER: Another beneﬁt of self-
regulation is that the Institute has to
uphold standards by identifying problems,
learning the lessons, and feeding that
into the Institute’s training and support
for members. So you’re taking a holistic
approach aren’t you?
RG: If the tribunal identiﬁes a particular
issue, we will review it to determine if it is
a systemic issue and seek to inform and
educate members accordingly.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Information regarding members’ professional obligations, including the Code of Ethics
and other professional standards, is contained in the Members Handbook. An online
copy of the handbook along with other resources can be found on the Institute website at
JW: We also see a number of smaller
practitioners who have failed in their
commitment to meet client expectations.
This is a societal issue of increasing pressure,
regulation and members not necessarily
asking for guidance.
RG: We strongly encourage members to
contact the Chartered Accountants Advisory
Group, which comprises senior members
who offer conﬁdential support and advice.
CHARTER: How do we enforce ethics?
JW: The need to comply with all the
standards applicable to what you do as a
professional is required by the overarching
ethical standard that in essence says
conform to all standards. So an allegation
of a technical breach, as a member of
the Institute, automatically leads to an
allegation of a breach of professional
CHARTER: Within the co-regulatory
environment, how does the Institute
work with various regulators to enforce
JW: Take ATO for example. It regulates
the SMSF regime and they might ﬁnd
deﬁciencies in an audit and they’ll refer the
matter to the auditor’s professional body
for investigation. The Institute will then
investigate the case and may refer it to
the tribunal for hearing. One of the issues
that has come to the tribunal is a failure to
understand the independence requirements
of being an auditor of a SMSF. You cannot
prepare the ﬁnancial statements and do the
audit at the same time.
Ethics is further enforced through the
disciplinary processes of the regulators
and courts. Professional standards –
including the Code of Ethics – are used as
benchmarks in case arguments and in the
determinations of courts and bodies such
as ASIC and the Company Auditors and
Liquidators Disciplinary Board.
CHARTER: So are you conﬁdent our co-
regulatory model enables a sustainable
JW: It is sustainable, but we need to keep
working to make sure it remains relevant
and, as business practices change, we need
to continue to adapt. From the tribunal’s
perspective we certainly cannot relax our
expectations of Chartered Accountants.
RG: Part of the joy of the profession is
keeping up-to-date with standards and
regulation. Things are constantly changing
– that’s what we sign up for. It’s deﬁnitely
not boring – we embrace the constant
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