Guidance for the Public

Making a complaint

A guide for the public to the disciplinary process applicable to members of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Association of Taxation Technicians and the Institute of Indirect Taxation.


One of the important factors in preserving public confidence in a profession is the establishment and maintenance of appropriate professional standards of conduct for its members and the exercise of professional discipline over those who do not comply with those standards.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (‘the Institute’) and The Association of Taxation Technicians (‘the Association’) both have powers to issue professional rules and practice guidelines for their members and both have done so. The current Practice Rules and Professional Guidelines of both the Institute and Association can be found here. The two bodies also have power to enforce these practice standards through the exercise of disciplinary procedures. To undertake this they jointly established The Taxation Disciplinary Board Ltd (‘the Board’) in 2001. The function of the Board is to undertake the fair and expeditious handling, investigation and adjudication of complaints on an impartial and independent basis and, where a complaint is proven, to impose appropriate penalties or sanctions within the powers granted to the Board by the Councils of the Institute and the Association. The Board is empowered to deal with complaints alleging breaches of professional standards and guidance, the provision of inadequate professional service, and conduct unbefitting a professional person.

All members of those bodies have subscribed to this regime as a condition of their membership and as a reflection of the advantages which accrue to them as members of that professional body. Students of the two bodies are also included within the disciplinary process, as are firms that come within the jurisdiction of the two participating bodies.

This Guide outlines the disciplinary process and gives guidance to the public in the event that they have a complaint about the activities of a member of the Institute or the Association. It is not intended to provide definitive legal advice. In the event of any conflict between this guidance and the Regulations, the latter take precedence. The Scheme and Regulations can be found here.

Making a complaint against a member is not a substitute for seeking damages or other redress through the courts. The Board’s jurisdiction over members of the Institute and the Association is regulatory and disciplinary in nature. The Board is not in a position to give you legal advice. If you feel that you have a claim in law against a member of the Institute or the Association you may wish to seek independent legal advice. The Board cannot intervene in fee disputes, as it considers that the courts are the proper forum for such matters. Nor can the Board advise on what is a reasonable sum for work done. The Institute or the Association can, however, advise on whether its Members have complied with professional conduct regulations relating to fees.

Role of the board

Role of the Board
The Board operates independently of the Institute and the Association. It has established the following process for dealing with complaints that it receives.

  1. The Review stage

Complaints should be made using the standard form which is available here and sent to the TDB Operations team at or posted to TDB, 30 Monck Street, London SW1P 2AP.

Upon receipt of a complaint the TDB Operations team will appoint a Reviewer to examine the complaint to check that, (i) it falls within the jurisdiction of the Board, and that (ii) the complaint has been submitted within twenty-four months of the events which form the subject matter of the complaint  and that (iii) the matter of the complaint is not trivial or vexatious, otherwise the complaint will be rejected and no further action will be taken.

If the complaint is rejected the complainant may have grounds to request that decision is reviewed by an Investigatory Assessor, who is an independent person appointed by the Board.

In most cases, the Reviewer is likely to refer the complaint for examination by the Investigation Committee. Before doing so the Reviewer will forward the complaint, together with any supporting documentation submitted, to the member about whom the complaint is made for their response to the complaint.

  1. The Investigation Committee

The role of this Committee is to investigate all matters referred to in the complaint to determine whether a prima facie case has been made out against the member who has been complained about. (A prima facie case means that there is an arguable case to answer.) The Committee comprises of three members drawn from a panel composed of a legally qualified chair, tax professional and a lay member of the public. All the members of the panel are appointed by the Board and operate independently of the Institute and the Association.

The Committee meets in private. Neither you nor the Member is invited to attend, and all the consideration is based on the documentary evidence submitted.

The Committee will have before it a report prepared by the Reviewer based upon the correspondence which has previously been conducted in relation to the complaint. The Committee will examine the material submitted to it and, if appropriate, will request the Reviewer to undertake any further enquiries which it considers necessary to ascertain the full facts of the complaint and the evidence available to support the allegation. After a full investigation and examination of the available information, the Committee may dismiss the complaint or find that there is a prima facie case to answer.

If there is found to be a prima facie case to answer, the Committee may decide either (i) to take no action if it is not serious enough to merit any sanction available to the Disciplinary Tribunal, or (ii) to dispose of the complaint by a consent order, if the member agrees to the sanction proposed by the Committee; or (iii) to refer the complaint to the next stage.

The Complainant and member under investigation will be advised of the Committee’s decision and the reasons which led to that decision and will have a right of appeal to an Investigatory Assessor if either object to the Committee’s decision. The Assessor, whose decision is final, may uphold the Committee’s decision or refer the matter back to a new Investigation Committee, who will consider the matter afresh.

3. Interim Orders

Such an order would be considered at an interim stage between the consideration of a case by the Investigation Committee and the substantive hearing at a Disciplinary Tribunal. It would aim to deal with a member who poses a particular threat to the public such that it is considered to be in the public interest or necessary for the protection of the public that his membership should be suspended, pending a full hearing of the disciplinary charges by a Disciplinary Tribunal.

Details of the specific arrangements are contained within the Taxation Disciplinary Scheme Regulations 2014 as amended in 2024.

  1. The Disciplinary Tribunal

If the Investigation Committee considers that there is a prima facie case to answer and that the complaint is not suitable for disposal by consent order or the member does not consent to the terms of disposal proposed by the Committee, it may refer the case to a Disciplinary Tribunal.

The Disciplinary Tribunal is composed of three members drawn from a panel, a legally qualified chair, a tax professional and a lay member of the public. All the members of the panel are appointed by the Board and operate independently of the Institute and the Association.

The Tribunal sits in public, and you are entitled to attend, even if you do not choose to give evidence. The role of the Tribunal is to hear the evidence presented to it by a lawyer acting on behalf of the Board to determine whether the alleged conduct is proven and to make a finding accordingly. The defendant (the member complained about, has an opportunity to give evidence, although he is not obliged to do so and may choose not to attend the Tribunal.

If a breach of discipline has been found, the panel may impose such penalty as they consider appropriate in the light of the powers given to them, the gravity of the breach and the facts and arguments presented. The Disciplinary Tribunal has a wide range of sanctions available to it. These include the imposition of a requirement to apologise, a fine or an admonishment through to the more severe sanctions of suspension or expulsion from the Institute or the Association. There is also a power to award compensation where the Tribunal has made a finding of Inadequate Professional Service. Its decisions will be sent in writing to both the defendant and the complainant, with reasons given for the Tribunal’s decisions. They will also normally be published.

  1. The Appeal Tribunal

There is a final stage available to the Board and to the defendant, following a decision by the Disciplinary Tribunal. A complainant is not entitled to appeal against a decision of a Disciplinary Tribunal but the Board or the defendant may apply for a hearing before the Appeal Tribunal. They may do so only on the grounds that there has been a misapplication of the relevant rules and/or the relevant law, that the finding or sanction was unreasonable or that new evidence has become available which, had it been available earlier, would materially have affected the finding of the previous Tribunal. The request to make an appeal will first be considered by an Appeals Assessor to ensure that the appeal comes within the specified grounds. If permission to appeal is granted, an Appeal Tribunal will hear the case. This body normally sits in panels of three, a legally qualified chair, a tax professional and a lay member of the public.

The Appeal Tribunal may uphold, modify, or overturn any finding of the Disciplinary Tribunal. Its decision is final within the process.

Your rights and actions

You are entitled to expect that all members of the Institute and the Association, including students and firms which come within their jurisdiction, will conduct themselves in a professional manner both in the provision of their services and in their conduct.

They are obliged to comply with the Professional Rules and Practice Guidelines issued by the body to which they belong. If you believe that a member or student has failed to meet the professional standards expected of them or has provided inadequate professional services or has otherwise demonstrated conduct unbefitting a member of their profession, you can make a complaint to the TDB Operations Team using the standard complaint form which can be found here and send it or post to TDB, 30 Monck Street, London SW1P 2AP.

If you wish to complain you should give the name and address of the person against whom you are complaining and the nature of the complaint.

After determining whether the alleged breach is within the rules and guidelines to which the individual is subject, the TDB Operations Team will advise how the matter is to be taken forward. At each stage of the process the TDB Operations Team will keep you informed. There are time limits set for the exchange of correspondence to reduce delays in bringing complaints before the appropriate forum.

If, as is usually the case, the complaint is referred for detailed examination by the Investigation Committee it is possible that you will receive a request for further information to assist its investigation. You will be advised of the Committee’s decision and, if the matter proceeds to a Disciplinary Tribunal, you will be informed of the date, time, and location of the hearing, which you may attend as an observer.

The TDB aims to ensure that all complainants are treated fairly. If you are unhappy with the way your case has been managed, you may complain to the Board who will review the case. Such a review is limited to the conduct of the TDB staff and is not a way of appealing against a decision.


The TDB strongly supports the UK governments drive to combat Money laundering and Terrorist Financing and feel it is paramount for the TDB and the public to help the fight.

To learn more follow the links below.


The Taxation Disciplinary Board is concerned to ensure that there is a fair and independent investigation of every complaint referred to it and also to ensure the fair treatment of any person against whom a complaint is made.  The current procedures are also designed to enhance the standing of the tax profession by maintaining high standards of conduct and by ensuring that complaints are dealt with in an independent and impartial way.

This informal guide is intended to give brief information about the disciplinary process.  Anyone who becomes involved in that process may also consult the text of the relevant Professional Rules and Practice Guidelines, which are published on the websites of the Institute and the Association. The detailed provisions of the Taxation Disciplinary Scheme and associated Regulations are available elsewhere on the Board’s site.

Any questions?

Contact us