Friday, 27 February 2009

New Comparative Paper on Insolvency Practitioner Complaints Handling

Professor Adrian Walters has recently posted his latest research, co-written with Professor Mary Senevirante, on insolvency practitioner complaints handling systems and discipline onto SSRN and sent out hardcopies to interested parties. This comparative research builds on their earlier work for the Insolvency Practices Council on IP complaints handling. The work makes fascinating reading. It will be interesting to see how their findings are received at the Sussex conference

This is the latest in a string of timely contribution by the Insolvency Practices Council. When did this body come into being? The Insolvency Service and the Recognised Professional Bodies (RPBs, i.e. ACCA, ICAEW, IPA, SRA, LSS, ICAI, ICAS, Secretary of State, etc) set up a Working Party in 1997 to review the Insolvency Act 1986 provisions that regulate insolvency practitioners. Uppermost in the minds of the Working Party was the concern that the Insolvency Act 1986 was working in the public interest. They were specifically interested in the public perception of insolvency practitioners and wanted to ensure that insolvency practitioners (IPs) were working in a system that ensured efficient administration and that the needs of all insolvency stakeholders were taken into account. From these noble beginnings the Insolvency Practices Council was born in 2000. The Working Party opined that external consideration of professional standards and ethics, with a view to best practice recommendations from individual lay persons who were outside the Insolvency Service and the RPBs, might help engender greater public confidence in insolvency practitioners. With these laudable aims in mind the IPC was constituted to help ensure that the insolvency profession could meet the targets set by the Working Group. The Annual Reports of the IPC always make very interesting reading and usually contain a number of recommendations to improve IP practice in various areas. It would be helpful if these annual reports were retained in digital format on their website.

The IPC stated remit is to ‘investigate and examine the professional and ethical standards of the insolvency profession.' Technically therefore its remit does not stretch as far as the investigation and examination of the whole plethora of other interested and impacting elements, such as debt advice clinics, as these are not staffed by IPs. The work of debt advice clinics is very important is relation to personal indebtedness and whilst technically not within an insolvency procedure and therefore attracting the input of an insolvency practitioner.

Picture Credit: Muir Hunter Museum of Bankruptcy, KU (GP).

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