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  • The Fee Arbitration Scheme of ICAS has been set up to assist members of the public and chartered accountants to reach a fair settlement of fee disputes.

    The Scheme is the ideal alternative to potentially protracted legal action providing a cost-effective and equitable solution. However, it is not appropriate for use in situations where the fee has been agreed in advance. 

    How does the Scheme operate?

    Both parties must agree to the dispute being referred to the Scheme and to be bound by its decision. Each party to the dispute should then send an application for arbitration to ICAS on a form available from the Investigations Department.

    ICAS will appoint an independent arbiter, the Auditor, who will decide the most appropriate way of dealing with the matter, and inform both parties of this in writing. He may at his discretion, take written evidence, oral submissions, or both from any party which he considers relevant. Having reached a decision he will then issue this, in writing, to both parties.

    How long will it take?

    One of the main objectives of the Scheme is to ensure that a settlement is reached as quickly as possible. The time needed to conclude each case will depend on its complexity, the co-operation of the parties involved, and the amount of additional evidence required.

    The Scheme does, however, set some time limits to ensure that the process is not unnecessarily delayed. For instance, within 21 days of the Auditor informing the parties how he will proceed, the client must submit a brief statement of claim, setting out the amount of fees charged and the reasons why they are considered excessive.

    The accountant must respond to a request for information from the Auditor within any time limit set by him. Finally, once the Auditor has communicated his decision which is legally-binding to both parties, settlement must be made within 21 days.

    How much will it cost?

    The Auditor's fees are charged at an hourly rate. In determining the Award, the Auditor will decide who will meet his costs and, if they are to be shared, in what proportion. Although the amount of fees charged will again depend on the complexity of the case, the arbitration is generally the cheapest way to resolve the dispute, and certainly more cost-effective than opting for litigation.

    Further Information

    If you are involved in a fee dispute and would like further information about the Fee Arbitration Scheme contact complaints@icas.org.uk. Alternatively, call the department on 0131 347 0271.

    More information can be found in the following documents:

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