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Discipline

Last Updated Monday, October 31, 2016 04:38:46 PM

Discipline
The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants is South Africa's foremost professional accounting body whose main objective is to serve the interests of the chartered accountancy profession and society, by upholding professional standards and integrity and the pre-eminence of the CA(SA) designation locally and internationally. The Institute's disciplinary process plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the profession and protecting public interest. Through the exercise of professional authority over the Institute's members, the Institute is able to protect the public from unscrupulous practices, unprofessional or unethical conduct from its members, and by ensuring Continuing Professional Development and professional oversight, the Institute ensures the continuous development of its members' competencies.

Disciplinary and complaints process
The Institute's complaints procedure and disciplinary process is governed by the  Institute's Constitution and By-Laws. Members are subject to the Institute's Code of Professional Conduct which defines five fundamental principles by which professionals are bound, namely integrity; objectivity; professional competence and due care; confidentiality; and professional behaviour.

The Institute's disciplinary process becomes operative once an allegation of improper and/or unprofessional conduct has been made against a member by any person who has lodged a complaint with the Institute. The complaint against a member will then be considered against the Code of Professional Conduct, and should there be a prima facie case of improper and/or unprofessional conduct, the complaint will be dealt with in accordance with the By-Laws.

Who can you complain about?
Any person, including members, can lodge a complaint against members of the Institute, or persons over whom the Institute has professional authority, or persons who purport to be members of the Institute but in fact are not.

Which persons does SAICA have professional authority over?
The following persons are subject to the Institute's professional authority:

  • Chartered Accountants (South Africa) with the designation CA(SA)
  • Associate General Accountants South Africa with the designation AGA(SA)
  • Trainee accountants
  • Training officers, and
  • Accounting students

The Institute's power to discipline its members derives from the Constitution and the By-Laws.

What can you complain about?
Members are required to uphold prescribed standards of professional and ethical behaviour in their professional and business dealings. Any person, who has reason to believe that a member's conduct is improper is entitled and encouraged to lodge a complaint with the Institute regarding any alleged misconduct by a member of the Institute, such as:

  • Breach of professional confidentiality
  • Unethical conduct
  • Conflict of interest or improper relationships
  • Criminal convictions
  • Excessive charging
  • Unprofessional conduct
  • Holding out as a CA(SA) while not in fact a CA(SA)
  • Failure to uphold professional competence and due care in the performance of  professional's duties
  • Unauthorised advertising, or
  • Breach of the Continuing Professional Development policy 

This list is not exhaustive but is an indication of some of the alleged offences that can be reported to SAICA.

The Institute also exercises authority over accounting students registered with it to take the Institute's Qualifying Examination. These students are subject to the Institute's Qualifying Examination Regulations. Any alleged breach thereof shall be investigated by the Institute and dealt with in accordance with the By-Laws. 

The Trainee Accountant and Training Officer relationship is also subject to the Institute's By-laws, in particular the Institute's Training Regulations.

 

Restriction on the use of the Chartered Accountant (SA) [CA(SA)] designation
The CA(SA) designation forms the cornerstone of the accountancy profession in South Africa. The designation is governed in accordance with the Chartered Accountants Designation Act 67 of 1993. The purpose of the Act is to permit, regulate and restrict the use of certain designations to chartered accountants. To this end, persons who purport to be CA(SA)s, while in fact they are not, are guilty of a criminal offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding R20 000.

Any person using a designation, they are not to, should be reported to the Institute.

What if a member is both a Chartered Accountant South Africa (CA(SA) and a Registered Auditor (RA)?
There are instances where a member is both a CA(SA) and an RA. In these instances, SAICA will work with the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) which exercises professional authority over RAs in accordance with the Auditing Profession Act 26 of 2005. In terms of the By-Laws, if, during the commission of an alleged offence, a member was registered both as a CA(SA) and an RA, and pursuant to receiving a complaint in respect of the member, the Institute is obliged to refer the complaint to the IRBA for investigation by the IRBA. This referral will then kick start a joint disciplinary process with the IRBA.

What is meant by the joint disciplinary process between SAICA and the IRBA?
In terms of the By-Laws, if a complaint relates to a member who is an RA, the complaint will be referred to the IRBA for investigation and resolution. On completion of the disciplinary process by the IRBA, where the IRBA imposes a sentence but does not involve the suspension or removal from the register of auditors, the Institute is obliged to accept the finding and sentence against such member. In the event that the IRBA suspends or removes a member from its register, the Institute will accept the finding of the IRBA but will determine its own sentence. Therefore, the disciplinary process against members of the Institute who are also RAs, will involve the Institute and the IRBA.

Visit the IRBA website at www.irba.co.za.

How to lodge a complaint
In terms of the By-Laws, a complaint must be a formal complaint in the form of an affidavit. All complaints must be sent to The Project Director: Legal Compliance and Discipline, either by:

  • General mail: Private Bag X32, Northlands, 2116
  • Hand delivery: 17 Fricker Place, Illovo, Sandton, Johannesburg, 2196 
  • Email: discipline@saica.co.za, or
  • Fax: 011 621 6763

How is the complaint dealt with?
The following outlines the basic process of the Institute's complaints procedure and disciplinary process:

  • Upon receipt of a complaint, the Institute, through the office of the Project Director: Legal and Discipline, will first verify whether the person complained against is a member of SAICA, and if that person is a member of the Institute, consider the allegations. If there is a prima facie contravention of the By-Laws, the person against whom the complaint is lodged will be notified of the complaint and afforded twenty-one (21) days to respond to the complaint.
  • In certain instances the Institute may do away with the requirement that complainants should submit an affidavit.
  • If the period within which to respond lapses without a response being received, or if a response is procured but is not satisfactory, then the matter will be referred either to the Institute's Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) or the Disciplinary Committee (DC) (if the matter relates to a serious allegation of misconduct).
  • Where possible, SAICA shall, in its sole and absolute discretion, seek to apply alternative dispute resolution measures, such as mediation and/or arbitration. In the case of the latter, this will be in relation to training contracts between trainees and training officers) in an effort to exhaust all possible avenues prior to putting matters through one of the committees that adjudicate over matters PCC or DC.

What happens if a member is found guilty of an offence?
If found guilty the person against whom a complaint was lodged will either be:

  • Cautioned
  • Reprimanded
  • Fined
  • Suspended from membership
  • Struck-off from membership, or
  • Disqualified from applying for membership

Can a conviction or sentence be appealed?
Decisions of the PCC are subject to review by the DC. If the PCC has cautioned, reprimanded or fined a member, the member shall have the right to demand, within twenty-one (21) days after being notified in writing of the sentence given, that the matter be referred to the DC. The DC shall deal with the matter as a new complaint and shall, if it finds the accused guilty of the conduct complained of, be entitled to impose a sentence more severe than that imposed by the PCC. If an accused chooses to lodge an appeal in accordance with this provision, the penalty shall not take effect until the DC has dealt with the matter.

Can an accused be represented in a disciplinary hearing at the PCC?
After receiving a response to a complaint from the accused, the PCC shall be entitled to call upon the accused to appear before it to explain or elucidate, or discuss the matter, without prejudice to his or her rights. Only the PCC, not the accused, will be entitled to call for such a meeting and the accused will not be entitled to be represented at the meeting.

Can an accused be represented in a disciplinary hearing at the DC?
An accused is entitled to be represented at a disciplinary hearing including being represented by his or her attorney.

What is the role of the Project Director: Legal and Discipline?
The office of the Project Director: Legal and Discipline plays two crucial roles in the Institute's complaints procedure and disciplinary process. On the one hand, he or she has delegated authority from the Executive President of the Institute to administer, manage and co-ordinate the Institute's complaints procedure and disciplinary process, and on the other hand he or she fulfil the role of a committee secretariat for the PCC and the DC. Generally, he or she provides the necessary leadership and guidance to members and non-members on issues related to professional discipline.

The mission of the office of the Project Director: Legal and Discipline is to contribute towards the maintenance of the integrity of the accountancy profession, by fostering, nurturing and maintaining a culture of professional standards and integrity compliance amongst members through the:

  • Effective policing of professional standards, ethics and integrity and where breaches have taken place, punishing, and
  • Effective enforcement of disciplinary rules and processes

The Project Director: Legal and Discipline can be reached either by:

Is the Institute's complaints procedure and disciplinary process fair and transparent?
The Institute's complaints procedure and disciplinary process is based on the rules of justice. Though a disciplinary process is neither a civil nor a criminal process but a sui generis process, the processes followed satisfy the rules of justice in that they offer both the complainant and the accused the right to be heard and to present their case in a fair manner. In terms of the By-Laws, the findings of the DC are published on the Institute's website and publication, Accountancy SA.

Where can I get information about the Institute's complaints procedure and disciplinary process?
The following documents are relevant in the Institute's complaints procedure and disciplinary process:

  • SAICA Constitution (105Kb PDF)
  • SAICA By-Laws (126Kb PDF)
  • Code of Professional Conduct (640Kb PDF)
  • Continuing Professional Development policy (1,8Mb PDF)
  • Qualifying Examination Regulations: ITC Regulations (428Kb PDF) and APC Regulations (535Kb PDF)
  • Training Regulations (142Kb PDF)
  • Chartered Accountants Designation Act 67 of 1993 (21Kb PDF)
  • Auditing Profession Act 26 of 2005 (154Kb PDF)
  • IRBA website www.irba.co.za
  • Complaints Procedure (284Kb PDF)
  • Amounts determined by the Board in terms of the By-laws (8Kb PDF)
  • Amendment to powers of the Professional Conduct Committee in terms of the By-Laws (14Kb PDF)

    Whom do you contact for more information?
    For additional information on the Institute's complaints procedure and disciplinary process, or any other related matter, you can contact the following:

    The Project Director: Legal and Discipline
    Alicia Daniels

    Email: discipline@saica.co.za
    Tel: 011 621 6867
    Fax: 011 621 6763

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