As always, Blake Morgan LLP consultant/solicitor Chris Cope gives his take and explains what accountants can learn from these cases.
The Disciplinary Committee of ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) found member Ian Greenwood FCCA guilty of three allegations of misconduct, of which one involved dishonesty.
Ian Greenwood was a director of a practicing firm. During June 2018, a sub-contractor at the firm was approached by a client looking for assistance with a problem that he was having with a piece of land.
The client's father had recently died leaving the state to his son, including a bungalow. The client discovered that the property was in the name of a limited company which had been dissolved many years ago. His late father had owned this company. The client wanted advice as to how he could transfer the bungalow into his sole name.
The sub-contractor worked closely with Greenwood and informed him of the enquiry.
During August 2018, Greenwood wrote to the Government Legal Department (the GLD) to enquire whether the Crown had any interest in the property, on the basis that when a limited company is dissolved, unless there is a claim on its assets, these pass automatically to the Crown.
The GLD confirmed that the Crown had no interest in the property. Subsequently Greenwood told the sub-contractor that the client should not be given this news.
At a meeting during September 2018, Ian Greenwood proposed a ‘no win, no fee’ arrangement with the client on the assumption that the client would be issuing legal proceedings to resolve the issue, even though the issue had been successfully resolved.
However, without Greenwood’s knowledge, the client secretly recorded the entire meeting.
During October 2018, both the sub-contractor and the client submitted complaints to the ACCA in respect of Greenwood's misconduct and an investigation ensued.
After hearing evidence from Greenwood, the sub-contractor and the client, the Disciplinary Committee of the ACCA found that the allegations against Greenwood had been sustantiated.
The Disciplinary Committee ordered that Mr Ian Greenwood be excluded from the membership and pay costs to ACCA in the sum of £15,481.
UPDATED: This article was amended on 5 January to clarify that it was the client referred to in the disciplinary report as 'Mr A' that recorded the conversation and not the sub-contractor as what was originally reported in the article.
Chris Cope, consultant to Blake Morgan LLP, comments:
Ten months after the investigation commenced, Mr Greenwood submitted his resignation from membership to the ACCA which was accepted. As a result, he pleaded that the Disciplinary Committee (DC) had no jurisdiction over him. The DC rejected this on the basis that Regulation 10(3) makes it clear that whilst a complaint is under investigation, the ACCA cannot accept the member's resignation. The ACCA was wrong in accepting his resignation and the decision reversed.Secondly, Mr Greenwood argued that the transcipt of the recording of the meeting was inadmissable as he had neither been aware of the recording nor had he given his consent. Furthermore, he questioned whether the recording was complete and believed it may have been tampered with. The DC was satisfied that the transcript was relevant to the allegations. It also ruled that by considering the transcript, there was no unfairness to Mr Greenwood.
Mr Greenwood denied all three complaints. The DC heard his evidence, together with that of the two complainants. The DC found that he was not a credible witness. There were inconsistencies in his evidence.
The principle issue in this case was whether or not Mr Greenwood had been dishonest. Having found that he had, exclusion from membership was inevitable.
The costs of £15,481 can be explained by the fact that this was a four-day disciplinary hearing.
Do readers believe that Mr Greenwood should have been legally represented?
If you are presently subject to a complaint or want more information about Chris Cope and Blake Morgan LLP, solicitors, you can visit their website here.