Complaints about AAT members
If you have concerns about the conduct of an AAT member you can make a complaint to AAT's Professional Standards team.
AAT upholds high standards of competence and professional conduct. Accountancy is a trusted and respected profession and we aim to ensure that our members:
- behave professionally and ethically
- comply with AAT regulations and relevant UK legislation
- keep their skills and competence up to date.
If a complaint calls into question a member's conduct, or if we identify a breach of AAT regulations or policies during the investigation, we may take disciplinary action against the member. In other isolated minor cases, we may be able to help resolve the issue informally between you and the AAT member if we consider this to be more appropriate.
Is the individual an AAT member?
Six-month time limit
We will consider complaints only if they are raised within six months of the alleged issue occurring. If you make your complaint outside this period, there must be exceptional circumstances that you're able to explain to us.
The member's internal complaint policy
Our licensed members must by law operate an internal complaint handling policy. We will consider whether the member has been given an opportunity to resolve a complaint before we intervene.
This means that, wherever appropriate, you should give our member enough opportunity to resolve the matter through their own internal complaints procedures before you raise a complaint with AAT. If the member does not resolve your complaint to your satisfaction, you may lodge a complaint with us. When doing so, you must provide copies of all correspondence in connection with the complaint.
If your problem relates to a criminal matter, you must first report it to the police (or other relevant authority) for investigation. If there are legal proceedings or other ongoing investigation you must advise us of this.
AAT acts in the public interest and as such we act for the benefit of the public as a whole, rather than for individual complainants or members. Making a complaint against a member is not a substitute for seeking compensation or other remedies through the courts. We cannot give you legal advice or provide redress for any monetary loss suffered. Therefore, if you feel you have a negligence claim against an AAT member we recommend that you seek independent legal advice.
Matters we can consider
We can consider complaints arising from the services provided by licensed members where:
- there is evidence that the conduct was premeditated, repeated, systematic or dishonest
- the member abused a position of authority or trust
- a client's or other person's interests have been seriously compromised
- any victim of the conduct was vulnerable
- the conduct was motivated by any form of unfair discrimination
- there are grounds for believing that the conduct is likely to be continued or repeated
- the reputation of AAT or its membership has been damaged
- the Code of Professional Ethics (PDF) has been breached and the breach is not minor in nature.
Matters we cannot consider
We cannot consider complaints where the issue is one which AAT has no power to regulate or decide upon, for example:
- anonymous complaints that are not supported by independent evidence
- vexatious complaints
- attempts to use the disciplinary process to support legal action
- disputes about fees
- breach of contract or civil disputes
- disputes between employers and employees
- the personal activities of the member unless they are of a serious nature and could amount to misconduct.
AAT will not investigate complaints relating to fee disputes as this is not a breach of our standards, guidance or regulations. AAT members are entitled to exercise their legal right to recover unpaid fees, for example via debt collection agencies or the small claims court.
Our complaints and disciplinary process should not be used to support legal or fee disputes, or any other matters that lie within the jurisdiction of the court. To ensure we discharge our public interest obligations in a manner which is proportionate, consistent and fair to all parties, any investigation will be adjourned if it is identified there is an ongoing civil dispute. If you have a civil dispute, we recommend you seek your own legal advice.
Please complete the complaint form and email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: due to coronavirus (Covid-19) we are currently not working in the office and have no access to post. Please send any documentation securely by email.
We cannot investigate any complaints that are not sent by email.
All complaints must be supported by evidence of misconduct by a member. We will not investigate your complaint if you:
- do not provide documentary evidence in support of your complaint, or
- provide excessive documentation or hearsay evidence irrelevant to the complaint.
AAT aims to be transparent in its handling of complaints against members. This means all evidence and information will be disclosed to the member you are complaining about.
Please do not send original documents with your complaint form. We cannot return any documents to you.
Please ensure you provide a full account of each issue you wish to be considered by AAT – as well as all relevant supporting evidence – when submitting your complaint. We will not consider complaints or evidence submitted in stages. Also, awaiting the outcome of one complaint before deciding whether to submit others would be contrary to the public interest and would amount to a misuse of our complaints process.
We will write to confirm receipt of your complaint and then carry out an assessment to determine whether there are grounds for us to consider the complaint under the Professional Standards Investigations policy (PDF).
This assessment will involve making enquiries with the member or third parties (where applicable). Where necessary we may also ask you to provide additional information.
Once the assessment is concluded we will either:
- inform you we are unable to intervene and explain why, or
- warn the member and counsel them on future conduct, or
- take disciplinary action against the member.
If disciplinary action is taken we will keep you apprised of the disciplinary proceedings and the outcome of your complaint.
If the matter is referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal, you might be asked to attend the hearing to appear as a witness.
We aim to conclude cases between six and 12 months, but this very much depends on the complexity of the complaint and whether the matter needs to be referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal for a determination.