Canadian Judge Upholds CAs Monopoly on Audits

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In a decision handed down on July 25, 2001, Superior Court Judge Pierre J. Dalphond ruled that Section 24 of the Chartered Accountants Act does not violate the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Under this Section, the legislator grants CAs the exclusive right to practice public accounting, including external audits and review engagements.

The purpose of the lawsuit filed by the certified general accountants (CGAs) against the Attorney-General of Québec was to contest the constitutional validity of this Section because of the presumed discrimination it caused to its members as a group. The Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec (Chartered Accountants of Quebec) established that it is the education, training period and examination requirements that CAs must satisfy that prepare them to perform external audits of financial statements while ensuring the protection of the public.

In his ruling, Judge Dalphond claimed that students are free to become members of the Ordre or of any other accounting body. In his opinion, if some students prefer not to write the CA Uniform Final Examination or want to be admitted to a professional order more quickly and decide not to join the Ordre des comptables agréés, then that's purely up to them.

"The education of chartered accountants is based on fundamental values which focus on the protection of the public," stated Gérard Caron, FCA, President and CEO of the Ordre. "Furthermore, the Ordre has always placed a great deal of importance and rigorous attention on developing all the professional competencies relating to public accounting and all other aspects of the practice of the profession. There is no doubt that the Superior Court took these two factors into consideration" he added.

The nearly 16,300 CAs in Québec are recognized as leaders for their competence in decision-making information and assurance and are central to decision making intended to improve organizational performance. They are involved in all sectors of the economy. More than half of the Ordre's members are active mainly in industry, government and education. The rest are in public practice, where they are called upon to advise clients on issues that directly impact on the economy.

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