The requirements for a fair hearing under Article 6 of the European
Convention on Human rights were explored in the judicial review
decision of Harris v. The Appeal Committee Of the Institute Of
Chartered Accountants of Scotland  ScotCS CSOH_57 (04 May 2005).
Mr Harris was a Chartered Accountant who had been reprimanded for
his conduct in relation to the conduct of an insolvency by the
Institute of Chartered Accountants ("ICAS"), the body that regulates
Scottish chartered accountants. The Discipline Committee of the
Institute found Harris guilty of professional misconduct in relation to
some, but not all, of the charges levied against him and as a result he
was fined and his insolvency permit withdrawn for 12 months.
Mr Harris appealed this decision to ICAS's Appeal Committee. It is
the procedure followed during this appeal that lead to the judicial
Before the Discipline Committee, Mr Harris had been found not guilty
of charges of fraud and conspiracy in relation to the insolvency. The
appeal did not relate to these charges in any way. However, documents
in relation to these charges were placed before the Appeal Committee.
Following consideration of Mr Harris' case, the Appeal Committee
upheld the Discipline Committee's finding but chose to impose harsher
penalties in relation to those findings. Mr Harris was ordered to pay a
fine of £25,000 and his insolvency permit was revoked indefinitely.
Mr Harris applied for judicial review of the Appeal Committee's
decision claiming that his right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the
European Convention on Human Rights had been infringed.
During the judicial review hearing in the Court of Session, Lady
Smith found that an error had occurred which tainted the decision, as
the Appeal Committee had had before it material which was irrelevant
and prejudicial to the case upon which it was required to make a
determination. Lady Smith held that justice could not be seen to have
been done from the perspective of an objective bystander and the
requisite appearance of impartiality demanded by article 6 had been
abandoned. Lady Smith appeared particularly concerned about the effect
of placing irrelevant information before the Appeal Committee as the
Committee included a number of inexperienced and lay members who "may
not, unlike legally qualified judges, be familiar with the techniques
of excluding irrelevant material from their consideration." As a result
Lady Smith quashed the decision requiring that the matter be considered
Following the judgment, Mr Harris and ICAS entered into a compromise
agreement concerning the penalties imposed. Therefore the disciplinary
proceedings have been terminated and Mr Harris has withdrawn his