SPENCER v INSTITUTE OF CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS SIERRA LEONE (ICASL) ([node:field-casenumber]) [2008] SLHC 8 (11 July 2008);


29th APRIL, 1988 The Secretary, The Institute Of Chartered Accountants Of Sierra Leone, (The Association Of Accountants In Sierra Leone) P.O. Box 100, Ludgate House Freetown.

Dear Sir,

I refer to my previous application for membership of Association and for ward additional evidence of my professional qualification.

Because of postal difficulties between the United States of America and Sierra Leone, both transcripts were delivered to Rev. Dr. R . J. R Timity in Mary land USA , who sent them by personal courier to Freetown.

Yours sincerely, Michael F Spencer Capt. (Rtd) Transcript from Bowie St col Copy certificate from Bowie St col NSPA &BIM

A careful look at this letter would show that while it was addressed to ICASL by name it was in parenthesis addressed to AASL and by location or office addressed to P.O BOX 100 Ludgate House, Freetown which was the address of AASL.

What does this court make of this? It means that AASL should have in the natural course of events received it, despite it being addressed to ICASL, and having received it, were to


have considered and or processed it. Mind you this was a reminder for the SECOND TIME which ought to have been addressed by AASL as they knew of the previous application and had received a cheque as membership fees for it; and if paradventure they fail to address it, should have been well prompted as to cause ICASL to handle it after its inception on the 12th of May 1988. I take support for this because Section 13 (1) of the ICASL Act provides as follows:

Within six (6) months after the coming into effect of this Act, the Association shall transfer

a) All property and other hereditaments books and other instruments held or kept before such coming into effect, by or on behalf of the Association to the Institute and the Institute shall hold such property and other hereditaments for its own purposes and the Association shall cease to exist.

What this provision envisaged and or provided for was a system of handing over, such that the institution taking over, that is ICASL was expected to and or empowered to continue where AASL had left off. No doubt one matter which AASL had left hanging was the issue of the plaintiff's application which was received and acknowledged by AASL by exhibit B (this letter by itself perhaps would not come under "books" but definitely his application and acknowledgement would have been recorded in a book somewhere and so too the payment by cheque so that it comes within this provision ) which had been held or kept by the AASL. and this should have been handed over to ICASL for them to take action . There is no evidence before this court that this was done, but noting in particular that this was a mandatory requirement and the fact that the then president of AASL went on to become the 1st president of the ICASL there could not be any gainsaying that the plaintiff's application ought to have addressed it to conclusion. By ICASL. One notes the reminder by exhibit C and one would opine that in these circumstances ICASL was obligated by law section 13(1) of the Act to address the application by the plaintiff as though not originally by their date of inception not within their purview but later within their purview .


Would it be proper in such circumstances to just say Mr. Spencer ought not to be member of ICASL? I would think not. To be deprived of membership in such way has very sever consequences on a man's livelihood. He himself stated under testimony in chief that it affected his business and that it affected him financially as prospective clients did not accept his proposal for preparing their account .Whose fault was it who should take the blame for such certainly not the plaintiff. No doubt the Justice of the case demands that consideration be given to his application to AASL which to date has not been addressed by either AASL or ICASL despite the provisions of section 13(1) and the circumstances surrounding same..

There may be a case in saying that since his application has not been addressed, all that this court needs to do is, to compel the defendant to address his application and no more, in which case the defendant would be free to accept him or refuse him as a member and return his cheque. A consideration of this brings me to the second issue to wit:


Membership under the Act is either as a Chartered Accountant or a Registered Accountant and there are 3 categories of membership viz. as a Fellow (FCA), an Associate (ACA) or Registered Accountant (RA). Membership as a Chartered Accountant is under section 3(1) (a) or 3(1) b and Membership as a Registered Accountant is under section 3(2) of the Act. The case of the defendant is clearly that the plaintiff was not eligible to be enrolled as a Chartered Accountant under section 3(1) (a) of the said Act nor under section 3(1) (b) or under Section 3(2) as a Registered Accountant. There could not be any gainsaying that this is true from the evidence of DW 1 and the very Act itself in so far as sections 3(1) (a)and Section 3 (2) are concerned and I hereby endorse the defendant's solicitor arguments with reference to these provisions. The argument by the plaintiff's solicitor that there is no provision that you must have been in private practice as against active practice with reference to the provisions of


section 3(2) is rather misconceived as this section specifically so provides .But having said that, one must not lose sight of section 3(1) (b) which provides as follows

Subject to the provision of section 14 the following persons shall be eligible for membership as chartered Accountants of the Institute b) A person who is member of any society or institute of Accountants by whatever name called but approved under regulations made by the council as being in the opinion of the council an Association of equivalent status to that of the Instiute ;

Provided that not withstanding the approval of any such society or institute the council may declare that any specified class or description of members of the society or institute shall not be eligible for membership of the institute

Provided further that the regulation made by the Council under which any society or institute is approved for the purposes of this paragraph may provided as a condition of such approval that a member of the society or institute shall not be eligible for membership of the Institute unless he has undergone such trainingor acquired such practical experience in the subject of Accountancy as may be specified or prescribed by those regulations.

Section 5(a) persons who are enrolled or registered by the Council as Chartered Accountants or Registered Accountants as the case may be shall be entitled to use the title and shall be entered on the Register as

a) Fellows, if for the period of not less than five years immediately preceding the date of the application for such enrolment they have been enrolled Associates of the Institute or Other bodies


approved by the council, whether in private practice as Accountants or not and are otherwise fit and proper persons .

These provisions are wide enough and provide the basis under which he would have been eligible. This is so because we see from one of the attachments included under exhibit C a certificate from the National Society of Public Accountants where the plaintiff herein was admitted as far back as the 26th of February 1981 more than 20 years back when he lacked the wealth of experience he has now gained as a result of being chief accountant at the then SLET as an Associate member of the said Society. This court is of the view that this Society is of an equivalent status with ICASL and could be approved under regulations made by the council as being in the opinion of the council a Society of equivalent status to that of the Institute such that noting the provisions of 5a which does not make any distinction between being in private practice or not and for which the other requirements are met could have been approved by Council. The plaintiff could be enrolled as fellow chartered Accountant.

Pursuant to the proviso under 3(l)(b)which may impose preconditions, because of the Plaintiff's wealth of experience in the field there should not be any reason for imposing such conditionalities were the delay was due to the defendants failure to address his application. What am I saying? I am saying this is a special case and deserves special treatment in the interest of justice. The point that DWlgave evidence as to membership of societies or bodies approved under regulations made and recognized by the council of ICASL which does not include the National Society of Public Accountants becomes irrelevant as they could amend the regulations as the situation demands

One would in such circumstances urge that he be enrolled as such. This is so because there could not be any gainsaying that the plaintiff's application should have been addressed long before now such that refusal then i.e. 20 years ago does not carry the same implications now. In short, refusal for any reason whatsoever 20 years ago would only have served a purpose of putting the plaintiff in a position where he would have had to do what is required i.e. sit to an examination etc in order to put him within the rules as laid down in the Act . But for the defendant to be more less be so negligent as to cause his


application to be frozen for 20years to date smirks of indifference and any attempt to refuse him at this stage have the tendency of depriving him of his livelihood.

One notes in particular the provisions of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No 6 of 1991 under the chapter dealing with Fundamental State Policies which bind the Legislature Executive and the Judiciary at section 8(3) thereof which provides ".........the state shall direct its policy towards ensuring that

a) Every citizen , without discrimination on any grounds whatsoever shall have the opportunity for securing ade quate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportuni ties to secure suitable employment" hold that it becomes relevant to coming to right conclusion in the handling of this matter that the same be considered .

All things considered this court therefore gives judgment in favour of the plaintiff over the defendant. Against the aforestated background this court hereby orders as follows:

1. That in view of the above and noting the attachment to exhibit C which shows that the plaintiff is an associate member of the National Society of Public Accountants he be enrolled forth with by the defendant herein pursuant to sections 3 (1) (b) and 5 (a) of the ICASL Act No 5 of 1988.

2.  That pursuant to 1 supra the plaintiff be issued with a practising certificate pursuant to section 21 of the ICASL Act No 5 of 1988 the same which must be renewed annually by the payment of the Prescribed fees.

3. That the costs of this action be taxed

Hon Mr. Desmond Babatunde Edwards J