The Professional Conduct Committee investigates all written complaints received about CPA Bermuda members, students, professional corporations and firms as well as any other matter drawn to its attention that may indicate a violation of CPA Code of Professional Conduct, bylaws, regulations, or the Chartered Professional Accountants of Bermuda Act. The committee is composed of up to 5 volunteers appointed by the Council.
Matters under investigation and information gathered by the Professional Conduct Committee are confidential to the committee except to the extent necessary to carry out a prosecution when charges are laid. Members, students, professional corporations and firms under investigation (referred to hereafter as respondents) have the right to legal counsel at all stages of the proceedings.
When a complaint is received, a copy of the letter is forwarded to the respondent, who is asked to provide written comments and other information about the matter that the respondent would like the professional conduct committee to consider. Complainants are required to provide all pertinent details of the alleged misconduct, including any related documents, and respondents are expected to provide a full and complete response to the allegations made against them. Upon receipt, a copy of the respondent's reply may be forwarded to the complainant for information and further comment. Any additional information provided by the complainant may be shared with the respondent.
Failure on the part of the respondent to reply promptly to a letter from CPA Bermuda requesting comments about a complaint will be referred to the Professional Conduct Committee and may result in a charge under Rule 104 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
When all correspondence and other pertinent data have been received from the complainant and the respondent, it is forwarded, together with a report summarizing the pertinent details, to the Professional Conduct Committee. In considering the matter, the committee may find it necessary to obtain further information from the respondent. In these cases, the committee may request the respondent to attend:
- An informal subcommittee meeting
- A formal committee meeting
Where the subject matter of the complaint is complex or serious, the committee may appoint an investigator to obtain detailed information, including statements and supporting documents, from all parties to the matter. Typically the investigator meets with the complainant to obtain further information pertaining to the complaint. The investigator also meets with the respondent and others who are able to provide information about the complaint. The investigator then prepares a written report to the Professional Conduct Committee summarizing his or her findings. The investigator and the respondent are invited to attend a Professional Conduct Committee meeting to answer questions about the matter under investigation. Where the investigator has gathered together documents in support of a report, standards enforcement staff will provide the respondent with a brief of the documents circulated to the Professional Conduct Committee.
The Professional Conduct Committee, after considering the information before it, may conclude:
- The member or student did not breach the rules of professional conduct and the file should be closed
- A breach of the Rules of Professional Conduct may have taken place but the matter does not justify the laying and prosecuting of charges before the Discipline Committee. In these cases, the Professional Conduct Committee may provide guidance and advice to the respondent to assist in avoiding a similar situation in the future.
- A breach of the Rules of Professional Conduct has taken place and charges should be laid.
Complainants are informed as to the disposition of their complaints after the Professional Conduct Committee has reached a decision on the matter. If, after closing a file, new information is received, the committee may reopen the file.