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THE Insolvency Practitioners Association (IPA) has announced that it will be co-ordinating the regulation of its members with the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA), but not, for now, with the Law Society.
Qualified insolvency practitioners are drawn from a number of professions, including the legal and the accountancy professions, and they are regulated by their respective professional bodies - the Law Society and the ICA, as well as the various other membership bodies concerned with insolvency practitioners.
The latest move is an attempt to head off government criticism. A consultative document, "Insolvency Regulation - 10 Years On", published in December last year, concluded that the insolvency profession was poorly and inconsistently regulated.
The IPA is strongly opposed to the possible loss of the privilege of self-regulation.
The new president of the IPA, Glasgow accountant Ken Ross, said: "One of the greatest problems for our profession has been the multiplicity of regulators - we have eight bodies - and this move takes the first big step towards curing that problem."
The two organisations claim that their move will bring consistency of regulation to the 61 per cent of all insolvency practitioners that they regulate.
The IPA's and the ICA's respective licensing committees will meet together on a regular basis to ensure a consistent approach to the granting of licences to insolvency practitioners. The two investigation committees will put in place similar arrangements.
The review, disciplinary and appeal committees of the two organisations - responsible for considering the fitness of an individual to remain an insolvency practitioner - will also share common members in an effort to ensure that their respective approaches to decisions are consistent.
The IPA is not, for the moment, seeking to co-ordinate with the Law Society, although spokesman Tim Grundon said that the proposals could herald closer links. "We'll see how things work out," he said.
A spokesman for the Law Society said that no approach had yet been made by the IPA.
Last month the IPA called for a new unified body to oversee the regulation of all lawyers and accountants who are also insolvency practitioners.
But as reported in The Lawyer, the move met with a lukewarm response from several prominent insolvency lawyers, who argued that the cost of setting up the body would be prohibitive.