Litigation Recent Decisions 31/01/95

Coopers & Lybrand: partners concern over risk to fair trial

Chartered Accountant's disciplinary scheme

R v Michael S Chance, ex parte Smith & others (1995) (DC 21/12/94) (Henry LJ and Kay J)

Summary: Whether a preliminary investigation under the Chartered Accountants' disciplinary scheme concerning the conduct of auditors of the Maxwell Group of Companies should be stayed or prohibited as a risk to the fair trial of various civil actions.

Application for judicial review by three partners of Coopers & Lybrand, chartered accountants (Coopers), of the refusal by the executive council for the purposes of the joint disciplinary scheme (the scheme) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales being the applicants' professional body, of its request for a stay of the scheme enquiry and anticipated disciplinary proceedings against its firm pending the disposal of various actions for damages arising out of the same circumstances. The actions referred to were proceedings arising from Coopers' stewardship as auditor of the Maxwell Group of companies, brought by the liquidators of Bishopsgate Investment Management Ltd, trustees of the Mirror Pension Scheme, liquidators of the First Tokyo Trust Ltd and proceedings which appeared likely to be taken by the administrators of some of the Maxwell companies. Stay was also sought for disciplinary proceedings.