This is a further installment of the story that ACCA has not told its members. ACCA members may have ended up footing a bill of more than £100,000 as a result of the management's policies. It is about the ACCA management believing that the courts cannot intervene in its affairs and only a Visitor appointed by the UK Crown can. This argument is legally flawed, but was actively  promoted by the ACCA.

ACCA is a 'public body'. Its policies affect a large section of the community. It is in the public interest that the public has a good idea of the policies and accountability processes of the bodies that act as an arm of the state. To advance the public interest we make further disclosures.

During the various court cases involving Bankole, the line of argument put forward by ACCA's lawyers was that “The Defendant is a body incorporated by Royal Charter. The Defendant is a charity. As a result of the above, the Defendant’s affairs are to be ultimately regulated by the Crown acting through the Lord Chancellor …….. The administration of examination is a matter for the Defendant. Further who qualifies for membership of the Defendant and in what circumstances is also a matter for it not the courts to decide. Any dispute about the conduct of those examinations is a matter for it subject to:  the control of the visitor; and the examination rules …… In such circumstances, the Court does not have any jurisdiction to hear the case …….. the Court has no jurisdiction to grant relief”.

So a major issue is whether ACCA is a charity. Remember this is the position advanced by the ACCA and its lawyers. This argument was accepted by the courts and on this basis Bankole's arguments in lower courts and subsequently in the Appeal Court were rejected.

Upon realizing that the Bankole judgment opened the floodgates and enabled concerned members to approach the Crown and seek adjudication of disputes, the ACCA management had second thoughts.  Two ACCA members asked Her Majesty the Queen to intervene. At this point the ACCA spent members' monies and hired a  prominent lawyer to argue that the ACCA is not a charity. That legal opinion can be read in full by clicking here.

The ACCA's lawyers forwarded the legal opinion to the Lord Chancellor's Department on 24 July 1997  with a covering letter which argued that the Crown does not have the right to appoint a Visitor. The letter also stated that

“we are, however, aware that ACCA has through its Counsel, previously taken a different stance. In particular, it is clear from the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Bankole-v-ACCA, 15 November 1995 (unreported) that ACCA's counsel had submitted (albeit erroneously) to the Court, and the plaintiff had accepted, that ACCA was a charity. It was on that basis that the Court of Appeal had found, obiter that ACCA subject to visitorial jurisdiction. It is also accepted that, again erroneously, ACCA’s counsel  had made a similar suggestion on at least one occasion in the course of proceedings against Mr. Allen. Whilst it is unfortunate that this information was given to the court and to Mr. Allen it is nonetheless clear that ACCA is not, in fact, subject to visitorial jurisdiction ……….”

Mr. Allen had lodged a counterclaim against the ACCA in the Chichester County Court and in defence ACCA cited the Bankole judgment. As a result the courts refused to listen to his case. The ACCA's representations in the Bankole case had a material effect. Firstly, Bankole could not get his case fully heard. Secondly, Ronnie Allen could not get his case heard. Now ACCA's lawyers were saying that its original representations were wrong.

The letter written by the ACCA's lawyers to the Lord Chancellor's Department can read by clicking here.

Further episodes of this story will be made available soon.