The complaints process
Once a complaint and supporting evidence is received by CPA Australia, the following process takes place:
- The complaint is acknowledged in writing.
- The General Manager Professional Conduct (GMPC) reviews the complaint and supporting evidence to determine whether CPA Australia can investigate the matter. Further information may be requested from the complainant.
There are two potential courses:
- if CPA Australia cannot investigate, the complainant will be informed and the matter is closed
- if CPA Australia can investigate, the complaint is assigned to a Professional Conduct Officer (PCO) and a copy of the complaint and supporting evidence is sent to the member for a written response.
- Once the member's response is received, it may be sent to the complainant with an option to provide a response. Further clarification may be required from either party.
- When the assigned PCO has made a report on the complaint, it is sent to the GMPC so that the GMPC can determine whether the member has a case to answer in accordance with CPA Australia’s Constitution, By-Laws, Code of Professional Conduct or Applicable Regulations. If a case to answer is determined, charges are prepared and it is then referred to a formal hearing before a Disciplinary Tribunal.
Alternatively, if there is no case to answer, the matter is closed and both the complainant and the member receive written advice of this.
- The Disciplinary Tribunal will meet with the member, who is entitled to representation, legal or otherwise. If the Tribunal finds the member is in breach, a penalty may be imposed against the member. The Tribunal is comprised of both members of CPA Australia and community representatives.
- The member has a right to appeal against the Tribunal's finding through the appeals process.
- If the member appeals, the complainant will receive written notification of the Tribunal's finding and decision following the outcome of the appeal hearing.
- If the member does not appeal, the complainant will receive written notification of the Tribunal's finding and decision after the appeal period has expired.
- The findings and decisions of CPA Australia’s Tribunals are published on CPA Australia’s website without the complainant's name. Penalties that the Tribunals can impose include:
- forfeiture of membership
- suspension of membership
- a fine
- a reprimand
- cancellation or suspension of any certificate, privilege, right or benefit available to the member
- restricting the member from using the CPA designation and/ or ordering them to remove any CPA Australia signage and the designation from their advertising materials and office
- reducing the member's status and/ or removing any specialist designation
- requiring the member to undertake additional hours of professional development
- reviewing the member's practice.
The time taken to investigate a complaint varies from case to case, and will depend on a number of factors, including the response times from the member and the complainant to enquiries, the complexity of the matter and any relevant legal issues.