Thursday 27 June 2019

High Court rejects accountant's challenge to audit ban

The judge ruled the High Court had no jurisdiction
The judge ruled the High Court had no jurisdiction

Tim Healy

An accountant's legal challenge to his regulatory body's refusal to allow him appeal a decision stopping him from doing auditing work has been dismissed by the High Court.

Gregory Colclough, a member of the London-based Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), based in Ongar Village, Clonsilla, Dublin, also brought the challenge because, after he had been barred from auditing in 2014, the ACCA reactivated an investigation into whether he was a fit and proper person to practise as an accountant at all.

Mr Colclough claimed the delayed nature of this reactivated investigation, coming four years after an initial monitoring visit of his practice by the ACCA, had resulted in prejudice to him. He also complained of a general want of fair procedures in the ACCA's regulations.

The ACCA brought its own proceedings seeking the setting aside of Mr Colclough's challenge on grounds that the Irish High Court does not have jurisdiction to deal with the matter as it (ACCA), is subject to the laws of England and Wales.

Although headquartered in the UK, the ACCA has 20,000 members here and has a representative branch in Dublin as it does in many other countries.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Max Barrett dismissed Mr Colclough's case.

He found England and Wales was the appropriate jurisdiction under common law, under EU law governing jurisdiction (Brussels Recast Regulation) and EU law governing contracts (Rome I Regulation).

The judge also rejected Mr Colclough's arguments in relation to constitutional and other legal protections he would enjoy as a matter Irish law.

Judicial review "simply does not lie against the ACCA in this jurisdiction", he said.

The relationship between Mr Colclough and the ACCA is based on a contract to which Mr Colclough has voluntarily submitted (when he became a member of the ACCA in 2001), he said.

Even if the EU regulations did not apply here, the judge said Mr Colclough's application would still fail as a matter of common law.

This is because the ACCA bye-law governing disciplinary matters is determinative and identifies the exclusive jurisdiction as England and Wales.

The judge also said there was nothing before the court to suggest Mr Colclough would necessarily receive a lower level of protection under the laws or before the UK courts than he would obtain in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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