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Disciplinary action against members of the founding bodies of the ICAEW

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of the paper is to present an analysis of the disciplinary action taken against members of the founding bodies of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). This exercise illuminates an aspect of accounting's past which has tended to be overlooked in conventional histories of the profession. Design/methodology/approach ‐ An analysis of the internal records of the ICAEW has been conducted. In addition, the archives of the ICAEW's predecessor bodies, entries in various censuses and contemporary sources have been reviewed for relevant material. Findings ‐ Analysis of the records of the ICAEW and its founding bodies reveals a number of cases where disciplinary action was taken for breaches of ethical principles. The expulsion of a member, however, was always preceded by an external "prompt" such as the member's conviction on criminal charge, his disappearance or bankruptcy. This perhaps suggests that the early professional bodies were more inclined to protect the private interests of their members rather than the public interest. Originality/value ‐ The paper's findings add to the literature on the professionalisation of the British accountancy profession. By focussing on the less-celebrated aspects of the founders' behaviour, this paper puts the success of the profession in achieving public acceptance into sharper perspective.

Keywords: Accountants; Professional associations; Professional ethics

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2008


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