A complaint can be lodged with the Disciplinary council* against a chartered professional accountant or former chartered professional accountant for violating the Professional Code, the CPA Act, the Code of ethics of CPAs, or other applicable regulations.
The complaint may be filed by the syndic following an inquiry or by a member of the public. In any case, the person who lodges the complaint is responsible for preparing the file and presenting the evidence before the Disciplinary council.
* Under the Professional Code, a disciplinary council is established within each professional order. The council is an administrative tribunal that performs its duties independently of the order. It is made up of three people: a chair, who is a lawyer appointed by the Quebec government, and two Order members.
Whether you are the complainant or the professional targeted by the complaint, if you choose to appear without a lawyer and represent yourself before the disciplinary council, this guide will help you better understand the process, the steps after a complaint is filed, and the basic concepts that apply.
Source: Barreau de Montréal
Both parties present their case at a hearing before the Disciplinary council and have the right to be represented by lawyers.
Hearings are public, unless the Disciplinary council orders that a hearing be held in camera. The date, time and location of hearings are posted on the roll of hearings.
Before the first hearing of a disciplinary file takes place, only the information posted on the roll of hearings may be shared. Unless otherwise ordered, the entire disciplinary file is made public after the first hearing has been held.
Following the hearing, the Disciplinary council has 90 days to render its decision. It may:
- dismiss the complaint;
- decide that no offence has been committed;
- decide that an offence has been committed and impose penalties;
- recommend that the Board of directors impose a refresher training period or a refresher course on the member.
If the Disciplinary council determines that a CPA has committed an offence, it may impose one or more of the following penalties in respect of each of the counts in the complaint:
- temporary or permanent striking off the roll of the Order;
- a fine of not less than $2,500 nor more than $62,500 for each offence;
- the obligation to remit to any person entitled to it a sum of money the CPA is or should be holding for him or her;
- the obligation to transmit a document or the information contained therein, and the obligation to complete, delete, update or rectify any such document or information;
- revocation of the CPA’s permit;
- restriction or suspension of the CPA’s right to engage in professional activities.
The Disciplinary council may order either of the parties to pay the costs or apportion such costs among them. These costs include service costs, registration fees, the cost of expert opinion admitted in evidence, the travel and lodging expenses of Disciplinary council members, as well as the indemnities payable to witnesses.
Publication of decisions
The Disciplinary council must notify the Office des professions of its decisions. The Order’s bimonthly CPA Newsletter informs members of any strikings off the roll, suspensions and restrictions of the right to practise, and revocations of permits. Barring exceptions, the public is made aware of the decisions in a newspaper published in the region where the CPA practises.
The Disciplinary council can decide when the decision will be executed and published. For example, the Disciplinary council may postpone the execution of a decision and its publication until such time as an ex-member is reinstated to the roll of the Order.
Appealing a decision
Either party may appeal the decision of the Disciplinary council to the Professions Tribunal. Unless otherwise ordered, the appeal suspends the execution of the decision imposing penalties.
The Professions Tribunal may confirm, alter or quash the decision rendered by the Disciplinary council. The Tribunal’s decision may be the subject of a judicial review before the Superior Court.
The notice of appeal must be legally served on the parties and the secretary to the Disciplinary council within 30 days of the communication of the decision.
If you have any questions about the disciplinary process, please contact the Records Department at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 514 288-3256, ext. 2617 or toll-free at 1 800 363-4688.