For some time now, the CPA Canada website has described ACCA as 'aggressively advancing a global expansion strategy that targets Canada' and stated that ACCA is 'legally challenging the CA profession's legislated rights to the exclusive use of the name 'Chartered Accountant' in Canada.'
This is not true. In fact, ACCA has not objected, and does not object, to the use of the name 'Chartered Accountant' or the designation 'CA' by members of the CA Institutes in Canada.
Given the continued assertion of aggressive conduct by ACCA, we think it is important to provide the following background facts relating to ACCA's legal proceedings with CICA and four provincial CA bodies.
- Despite the fact that ACCA has been contributing to business life in Canada through its members and as an organisation over many decades, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO) has over the last few years commenced two legal proceedings against ACCA and its members.
- In 2006, ICAO initiated proceedings against an ACCA member who was then President of ACCA Canada, for using his designation, FCCA (among others), on an invitation to an ACCA graduation ceremony and in a report to ACCA members. Our member was acquitted of all charges in 2009.
- In 2007, ICAO opposed a trademark application by ACCA, relying on trademarks and official marks owned by the Ontario Institute, three other provincial CA bodies, and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). ACCA's trademark application was consistent with ACCA's global initiative to protect its intellectual property and brand – in keeping with most international organisations.
- As a result of these legal proceedings commenced by ICAO, ACCA has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a declaration confirming the right of ACCA to use the ACCA name and mark, and ACCA members to use their ACCA and FCCA designations, as permitted by law.
- In response, four provincial CA bodies have brought counter-claims, seeking injunctions which would prevent ACCA from using the ACCA name and mark, and which would prevent ACCA members from using their designations in Canada.
- ACCA believes that such orders, if issued by the Court, would effectively prevent ACCA members from providing professional accounting services in Canada and harm the reputation of our members, who have been trained to international standards in accounting and wider areas of strategic and financial management, and who work in many sectors in 170 countries including Canada.
- The requested orders would also effectively prevent ACCA and ACCA Canada from operating in Canada since ACCA is known worldwide under the ACCA name and mark. Indeed, we have made an allegation in the Federal Court proceedings that the seeking of these orders by these four provincial CA bodies infringes Canada's Competition Act.
- The provincial CA bodies unsuccessfully tried twice to have ACCA's Competition Act allegations struck from ACCA's defence to each counter-claim. However, the Court rejected these attempts and so the CA bodies will have to answer these allegations in the trademark proceedings, which are ongoing.
The position adopted by these Canadian CA bodies is inconsistent with that adopted in most jurisdictions around the world, where ACCA and its members co-exist with other professional accountancy bodies and their members. ACCA has remained open to dialogue with these CA bodies throughout the process and remains open to dialogue on how the bodies can work together in the interests of the Canadian economy.
ACCA has continually stressed that it supports regulations to protect the public interest in Canada, especially in the area of audit and related services. As a body with full legal recognition in the UK and Ireland in relation to audit training and regulation, and across the European Union, ACCA believes strongly in effective regulation of such areas.
However, the case in Canada is not about who is entitled to practise public accounting.
Far from pursuing an aggressive strategy, ACCA is simply asking the Federal Court to confirm ACCA's right to use its name and mark, and its members' rights to use their designations, as permitted by law.
ACCA calls on the CA and successor bodies in Canada to come to an agreement which maintains a level playing field for ACCA members who live and work in Canada, many of whom have migrated to Canada, and who are playing valuable roles in Canada's economy.