A state that issues certificates or licenses granting the right to practice public accountancy carries the corresponding power to revoke such right, or to prescribe the terms and conditions upon which it can be forfeited[i]. A person cannot acquire a vested right to practice accountancy by his/her registration certificate[ii].
Statutes can provide for revocation or cancellation of certificates for the following reasons:
- Unprofessional conduct in violation of an applicable accounting law[iii],
- Acts discreditable to the profession[iv],
- Dishonesty in the practice of public accounting[v].
Other disciplinary actions include suspension and public censure depending upon the circumstances[vi]. However, the hearing by a state board of accountancy in disciplinary proceedings for accountants must not violate the due process rights[vii]. Disciplinary charges before a licensing board must be established by clear and convincing evidence.
In Gurry v. Board of Public Accountancy, 394 Mass. 118 (Mass. 1985), a complaint was filed against an accountant by a company. The board of public accountancy suspended the license of the accountant for two years. The board found that the accountant made an unauthorized appropriation of funds from the company, which constituted discreditable conduct. Accountant filed an appeal with the superior court. The court observed that the board acted within its authority and hence affirmed the decision made by the board.
[i] Lehmann v. State Board of Public Accountancy, 263 U.S. 394 (U.S. 1923)
[ii] Murrill v. State Board of Accountancy, etc., 97 Cal. App. 2d 709 (Cal. App. 1950)
[iii] Shapiro v. State Bd. of Accountancy, 856 A.2d 864 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2004)
[iv] Gurry v. Board of Public Accountancy, 394 Mass. 118 (Mass. 1985)
[v] Dorr v. State Bd., 2001 WY 37 (Wyo. 2001)
[vi] Buchman v. State Board of Accountancy, 300 So. 2d 671 (Fla. 1974)
[vii] Shapiro v. State Bd. of Accountancy, 856 A.2d 864 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2004)