It has announced that it will begin formally accepting applications from interested parties on 1 July.
“As ICAEW is the UK’s largest insolvency regulator, ICAEW licensed practitioners gain a wealth of benefits and support,” ICAEW regional director Bob Pinder said.
“Now, through the introduction of partial licenses, those who wish to specialise in personal or corporate insolvency will be able to share those benefits.
“Insolvency firms who choose ICAEW as their single insolvency regulator will, therefore, ease the regulatory burden by dealing with only one regulatory professional body,” he added.
The idea of partial licences was first mooted in 2010 by the Insolvency Service, although it was not subjected to a formal consultation. It then appeared as one of the provisions in the draft Deregulation Bill and the insolvency profession was given one month to comment.
Their reaction was not favourable. ICAEW said that the consultation paper made a number of assertions about the perceived benefits of the proposals, none of which had been substantiated and none of which it found persuasive.
“It is suggested that the change will reduce barriers to entry and thereby increase competition,” ICAEW wrote. “Reducing the breadth of knowledge required of IPs could be regarded as reducing a barrier to entry. It could also simply be regarded as a lowering of standards. In either case, no explanation is given as to how this might result in increased competition.
“Competition needs to be measured not only in terms of cost, but also in terms of quality and effectiveness. In our view, the market is already competitive. We are not aware of a demand for partially qualified practitioners.”
Insolvency practitioner trade body R3 was equally concerned. It was worried not only that the move could reduce standards across the profession and affect the quality of advice given to debtors, but also that it would have a disproportionate impact on practitioners working in small firms, many of which are micro-businesses.
“In our view,” R3 said, “the current regime works well and ensures insolvency practitioners are highly qualified.”
The ACCA pointed out that the change would place appointers of insolvency practitioners in a position where holders of partial licences would be qualified to take on appointments in one or other of the two fields but might not be able to deal satisfactorily with interlocking issues.
In spite of the opposition, the provision remained in the Bill, which received Royal Assent in March last year.
Although ICAEW will only accept applications formally in July, applicants can register their interest early by emailing email@example.com.