Professional standards and discipline

We have a strong, well-established practice advising on ethics and standards in professions such as accountants, solicitors, surveyors and financial services providers. Our expert legal team have represented clients in disciplinary proceedings. We act for the professional bodies which set those standards and for businesses and individuals who transgress them.
  • Profile
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Having had the benefit for many years of being instructed by those who regulate the professions and by those who are bound by their rules and standards, we have the advantage of seeing a problem from both sides. That enhances the quality of the advice we are able to give. We understand not only the specific rules of the regulators but also the general principles of public law which govern them. We have developed relationships with many of the regulators. These include the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, of which one of our partners is a member, the ICAEW, the Insolvency Practitioners Association and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Our team comprises many former regulators from the business sector and is drawn from a wide range of specialisms within the firm. We work closely with colleagues who advise on professional indemnity matters since many professional disciplinary matters start or conclude in negligence claims. We work closely with our regulatory litigation team, and undertake advocacy before disciplinary committees.

We are not limited to contentious matters and have frequently been instructed to draft professional rules and procedures, and on specific ethical issues which businesses face from time to time.

The team provide "high-quality, practical advice in situations where there are many uncertainties."

Chambers UK 2021

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

Advising individual accountants and firms on their professional obligations and representing them in proceedings in the investigation and disciplinary committees of the ICAEW.

Financial Reporting Council

Advising in relation to the public interest cases brought by the FRC and its predecessor, the Joint Disciplinary Scheme, including representing a Big 4 firm where the adequacy of its audit of a global investment bank was questioned.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Acting as a legal assessor to the Disciplinary and Appeal Panels of the RICS enforcing the rules and standards under its Royal Charter.

Financial services

Advising individuals and corporates in enforcement and disciplinary proceedings brought by the financial service regulators, including the FCA, and subsequent proceedings brought by regulators and by employers.

Practice authorisations and licensing

Assisting individuals to obtain authorisations and licences to practise, especially in the financial sector, with specific reference to integrity and competence, taking the matter to litigation if necessary.

Insolvency Practitioners Association

Advising and acting as advocate for the Insolvency Practitioners Association in disciplinary proceedings brought against its members for rule and ethics breaches.

Directors' disqualification

Acting in directors' disqualification cases, including advising the Secretary of State and in subsequent proceedings by professional regulators and conducting the advocacy where a chartered accountant had been disqualified and then pursued by the ICAEW.

Rule drafting

Drafting the rules and procedures of several professional regulatory bodies including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Insolvency Practitioners Association and the predecessors of the Financial Conduct Authority as well as advising on any Human Rights Act 1998 issues arising.


Ensuring the firm's own policies and procedures and those of other firms are compliant with the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, the Bribery Act 2010 and other similar legislation.

© Stephenson Harwood LLP 2016. Any reference to Stephenson Harwood in this document means Stephenson Harwood LLP and/or its affiliated undertakings. Any reference to a partner is used to refer to a member of Stephenson Harwood LLP.