Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland gave evidence on Legal Services Bill. TUESDAY of this week saw officials from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland appearing before the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee to make pleas for Scottish accountants to become more involved in the expanded legal services market, promised by the Scottish Government’s Legal Services Bill, currently receiving a rocky ride from MSPs.
In response to opening questions from Justice Committee Convener Bill Aitken on how ICAS's regulated non-member model, which the notoriously closed shop accountants regulator claims could be applied to the legal profession at a cost that would be lower than that of the current proposals by the Scottish Government & Law Society of Scotland, ICAS Executive Director of Regulation & Compliance Vivienne Muir laughably claimed her institute‘s approach to regulation had worked well for the accountancy profession, but as we all know, has not worked very well for clients of accountants.
Vivienne Muir said : “ICAS operates a fairly comprehensive regulatory approach for its members. Our chartered accountant firms comprise non-members as well as chartered accountants. In order to bring those non-members into the regulatory structure, they can become regulated non-members—there are contractual arrangements under which non-members come to the regulatory fore.”
“The advantage is that when we go out to a firm we can monitor the whole firm, as opposed to looking just at our members. We are therefore bringing non-members into the regulatory framework. It is a simple way of doing things and means that we can go out and assess the firm for quality and competence. The method has worked well for the accountancy profession.”
ICAS goes to Holyrood but fails to impress on accountants legal services roles :
You can find out more about the Legal Services Bill HERE and the full written report of the 5th January 2010 meeting is here : Legal Services Bill 5th January 2010 Official Report
In reality, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland have as much a closed shop, protective, ‘crooked’ self regulatory set up as the Law Society of Scotland, and are well known to protect their own members from complaints even when accountants have carried out criminal acts. Among little known facts regarding ICAS is that senior Law Society of Scotland members sit on its governing body, something I’ve covered in an earlier article worth reading here : Fears over corrupt self regulation as accountants regulator draft in ex Law Society President and solicitor as Public Interest members
More of my previous articles on the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland can be read here : Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland - not a trustworthy regulator or role model by any means and if you don't want your legal services to be ‘Norman Howitted’ I’d suggest you read THIS and make sure your accountant is as far away from your legal affairs as possible.
It is evident the ICAS role model for regulation, as presented to the Scottish Parliament, works no better than the Law Society of Scotland’s closed shop routine for complaints against solicitors, demonstrating yet again that only fully independent regulation will serve the interests of Scotland’s consumers when it comes to a reformed legal services marketplace.
However since the Legal Services Bill as it currently stands has no provision for fully independent regulation of legal services in Scotland (principally because the professions don't want it, and actually fear it), we as consumers cant expect much to change in terms of the public’s access to justice, instead rather this bill now appears to be more about the professions' increased access to money and the continued right to control who in Scotland has access to justice and who does not.