Qualifications must be equal to that listed in the law

The law provides a list of subjects that have to be covered for a person to obtain a warrant in accountancy.

The law provides a list of subjects that have to be covered for a person to obtain a warrant in accountancy. This was held in Evgeuni Bodishtianu vs Accountancy Board decided on 20 May 2024. The Administrative Review Tribunal was presided over by Magistrate Charmaine Galea.

In his application, the Applicant, Evgeuni Bodishtianu, explained that he was appealing from a decision of the Accountancy Board in terms of Article 15A of the Accountancy Profession Act. He further explained that in 2021 he applied to receive a warrant to practice as an accountant. This was turned down a few months later. Therefore, he asked the Tribunal to order that his Russian degree be recognised by the Maltese authority that regulates advanced and higher education. He complained that the Board did not give any reason for the rejection.

The Accountancy Board held that it followed the law and if the warrant was granted it would have been a dangerous precedent. For a person to be granted a warrant he or she should have finished the course at the University of Malta or else its equivalent in another educational institute. The Board pointed out that the qualification the Applicant presented was a diploma achieved after a two-year course. The Board denied not giving reasons and had indicated the article of law upon which it based its decision.

The Tribunal looked at the Applicant’s testimony where he explained that he had been living in Malta for the past 27 years and held the position of director of a number of companies. He works as an accountant. He held that he has a degree from the Russian University of Economics, in which he had credits in accounts. The Malta Authority of Further and Higher Education recognised that this was classified as MQF Level 6.

The Secretary of the Board also testified. He explained how warrants are awarded. The Applicant’s qualifications were not equivalent to the ACCA calculator, which is the yard stick for the Board. He stressed that it is the Board which decides on the professional qualifications independently from the Malta Authority of Further and Higher Education. The Applicant did not have a degree majoring in accountancy. His first degree was in Theatre Arts. He held that there were other Russians who applied and were given a warrant because they had the ACCA qualifications.

The Chairman of the Board testified and pointed out that the course the Applicant attended was of only two years, while the course in Malta is five. The ACCA qualification is equivalent to the course done at the University of Malta.

The Tribunal first considered the allegation that no explanation was given for the Applicant’s rejection for a warrant. The Tribunal held that the letter pointed at Article 3(2c) of the Accountancy Profession Act. In fact, that Applicant replied to the letter stated that he was in fact qualified. In turn the Board replied to the letter.

The Tribunal held that it was the Board who had to analyse the application. Its reply to the application was dry but it was correct. Article 3(2)(c) of the Accountancy Profession Act gives two criteria for a person to be given a warrant. The first is if that person followed the course at the University of Malta or else had qualifications equivalent to that course. It was obvious that the Board was referring to the second qualification.

The Board has its own method for checking whether one should be given a warrant based on the system used was to adopt the qualifications of ACCA. The Tribunal listed the subjects required for a person to be considered as qualified and compared it with the qualifications of the Russian University of Economics. In doing so the Tribunal agreed with the Board that the course the Applicant covered had less academic subjects and as such he failed to prove that he was qualified as required by the law.

The Tribunal then moved to turn down the appeal.