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Annual Report 2009

How we communicate our views and how they have been received

When we believe changes are needed to the professional and ethical standards set for IPs or in the ways they are monitored and enforced we try to get them remedied by persuasion and argument in meetings with the RPBs and the IS and through the comments and recommendations which we publish in our Annual Reports and put on our website ( Elsewhere in this Report we summarise all the recommendations in our previous Annual Reports and comment on the responses we have received to them. We also seek to put across our views in meetings with our other stakeholders, in our responses to consultation documents issued by the Insolvency Service or other government departments, when invited to speak to audiences of IPs at their annual conferences and in the last two years as observers at meetings of the IVA Standing Committee and its Market Information Sub-Group.

It is for others to judge how effective we have been in carrying out our role. A number of our recommendations have been wholly or partially accepted. For example, our early recommendations on the timely treatment of the matrimonial home in bankruptcy and on the need to give debtors written guidance on the pros and cons of entering an IVA have been fully met. More recently, our call to the Insolvency Service to publish a regular series of statistics on the completion and failure rates of all IVAs was fully met last year and several of our recommendations for simplifying IVAs were taken up in the IVA Protocol. Actions taken by the Insolvency Service and the RPBs to increase the frequency of monitoring visits to the large IVA providers and to hold discussions not
just with their IPs, but also with the senior managements, were also in line with comments in our Reports. In some cases, eg, on “pre-packs”, we were not alone in making the recommendations, so it is difficult to be certain how much is attributable to our efforts. In other cases the RPBs have assured us that they are already dealing with concerns we have expressed.

It is inherent in our work as an external, independent body that some of our recommendations will be rejected either because our diagnosis of a problem is not shared or because the regulators consider that the remedy we have proposed is unnecessary or disproportionate. In some cases we have accepted this in subsequent dialogue and amended or withdrawn a recommendation as a result We are, however, disappointed by the reluctance of RPBs acting through the Joint Insolvency Committee (JIC) to accept the case we have made for changes in the complaints procedures of both IPs and the accountancy RPBs in relation to complaints by personal debtors about bad advice, and our recommendation that there should be more prescriptive guidance on timely answers being given to correspondence with clients and other interested third parties. The argument advanced by the RPBs on the first of these issues is that there are very few complaints about bad advice is not well made in our view. Other professions have accepted the need to put in place complaints systems, which are consumer friendly and provide in the last resort for access to an independent arbitrator. We consider that it is in the interest of the reputation of the insolvency profession to adopt the same approach to these issues.

Overall, the responses we get from our stakeholders lead us to believe that we are making a useful contribution. Most other professions have recognised the need for an independent lay input into the setting of their regulation and professional standards. The current levels of indebtedness and insolvency have put the insolvency profession increasingly in the public eye and underline the continuing need for an independent observer and
commentator like the IPC.

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