Make a Complaint
The following outlines how you make a complaint about one of our members and the IPA’s process for dealing with that complaint.
We act in the public interest and it is part of our role to ensure our members and member firms act with integrity and undertake work correctly and to the highest standards. If your insolvency professional is registered with us and their work falls short, you can complain to IPA. Remember we can only get involved in your complaint if the individual or firm is regulated by IPA.
What can I complain about?
You can complain about an Insolvency Practitioner’s conduct within, normally, three years of its occurrence, however, the complaint cannot relate to a disagreement that arises in trade or commerce or a dispute about legal rights or legal obligations. These matters should be dealt with by the courts.
Before you make a complaint
In many cases, issues can be resolved by talking to the Insolvency Practitioner. A large proportion of insolvency complaints arise due to a breakdown in communication between the Insolvency Practitioner and the interested party. In most cases, the insolvency practitioner or their firm will have an internal complaints procedure and you are encouraged to try to resolve the complaint directly with the Insolvency Practitioner where possible. This will often be a quicker method of resolving your complaint.
If you find you are still unable to resolve the problem, or if it’s not appropriate for you to contact the Insolvency Practitioner (i.e. instances of fraud) your next step is to file a complaint via the Insolvency Service Gateway.
When we receive a complaint
The person who submits the complaint will be referred to by the IPA as the Informant. This is because they are putting information before the IPA in order to allow it to perform its duty of regulation and, if appropriate, sanctioning IPs.
The complaint is referred to our Regulatory Investigations team, who then need to establish the issue(s) and whether there has been any misconduct. This will involve communicating with the Informant who submitted the complaint and with the Insolvency Practitioner. The team will establish if there are grounds for considering disciplinary action against the Insolvency Practitioner. Please note that not all complaints that are upheld will result in disciplinary action.
If it is found that there are no grounds for the complaint to proceed, we will explain the position to the Informant, and we may share with them the Insolvency Practitioner’s response. If the Informant doesn’t agree with this assessment, they are entitled to contact us to request a review of the decision.
If there are grounds for considering disciplinary action
We will make further inquiries and present the Insolvency Practitioner with formal allegations. The matter can then be presented to our Regulation and Conduct Committee for a decision. If the Committee is satisfied that there is a case of misconduct, it will either ask the Insolvency Practitioner to agree to a sanction via a process known as a consent order, or, for less serious matters, will issue warnings. The Committee may decide that the matter needs to be heard by a tribunal. This would happen for more serious complaints or if the Insolvency Practitioner doesn’t respond to, or accept the offer of settlement from, the Committee. Tribunals are carried out by our Disciplinary and Appeals Committee.
The two committees explained
The Regulation and Conduct and Disciplinary and Appeals Committees form the two tiers of the IPA’s regulatory committees. They are responsible for decision-making on matters relating to Insolvency Practitioners’ conduct, including disciplinary action.
Both committees comprise IPA members and members from outside the IPA, known as lay members. The Regulation and Conduct Committee operates with a lay majority at meetings, and tribunals are carried out with two IPA members and one lay member. An independent legal assessor, who takes no part in the decision-making, is also present at a tribunal.
What kind of sanctions can the IPA issue?
IPA has various powers available to it including making a finding with no action and issuing non-financial and financial sanctions. IPA has no powers to make a member or firm pay compensation, however, it is able to order the Insolvency Practitioner to pay the costs incurred during an investigation into a complaint.
How long does it take to resolve a complaint?
Complaints received in our complaints department are acknowledged within 10 working days. If you make a complaint, you are called “the Informant”. This is because you are putting information before the IPA to allow the IPA to perform its duty of regulating and, if appropriate, sanctioning insolvency practitioners.
As the Informant, you may expect regular correspondence until the complaint is resolved. The majority of complaints are resolved in 3-6 months. Very occasionally, some complaints will take longer to conclude.
What affects the length of time needed to resolve a complaint is the complexity of the complaint and the level of communication required with the parties. We also rely on timely communications being received from the parties. We must also ensure that disciplinary processes are undertaken properly, and therefore matters that escalate to tribunal level may take longer than usual.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretary of State for business, energy and industrial strategy and the RPB’s as regards the provision of a complaints gateway can be found here: