ICAS Code of Ethics
2022 ICAS Code of Ethics applicable from 1 January 2022
View the 2022 ICAS Code of Ethics (excluding Part 5 - Insolvency Practitioners)
View Part 5 ICAS Code of Ethics - Insolvency Practitioners
The 2022 ICAS Code of Ethics (applicable from 1 January 2022) revises the 2021 ICAS Code of Ethics (applicable from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021) to incorporate the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) changes to promote the role, mindset and behavioural characteristics expected of all professional accountants.
Guidance to the ICAS Code of Ethics: Objectivity - Financial interests in, or relationships with, clients
There are clear threats to objectivity when a CA or member firm has financial interests in and/or relationships (business, family or other personal) with their client. There will only be very limited circumstances when those threats can be reduced to an acceptable level.
ICAS has published the guidance paper - ‘ICAS Code of Ethics: Objectivity – Financial interests in, or relationships with, clients’ - which discusses some factors that a professional accountant might need to consider when making an assessment as to whether adherence to the fundamental ethics principle of objectivity can be met and provides case studies in the Appendix by way of illustration.
The full guidance or alternatively an "Abridged Version", which provides an outline of the key points within the full guidance paper, are both available for download here.
Guidance to the ICAS Code of Ethics: Sustainability
Given the important role that the accountancy profession plays in society, it is imperative for all CAs to be aware that, whilst sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) related matters are generally not currently specifically highlighted within the Code, they are nevertheless contained within the substance of the Code. Guidance in relation to how the provisions within the ICAS Code of Ethics apply to sustainability related matters is available here.
The guidance signposts the following areas of the Code where provisions could relate to sustainability related matters (please note that these areas are provided by way of example and should not be considered an all-inclusive list):
- Sustainability and the ICAS Code of Ethics
- Preparation and presentation of information – integrity and objectivity
- CAs shall not knowingly be associated with misleading information
- Internal controls
- Inquiring mind
- Reliance on the work of others or on the output of technology
- Financial interests, compensation and incentives
- Professional competence and due care, confidentiality and professional behaviour
- Acting with sufficient expertise
- Non-compliance with laws and regulations (NOCLAR)
- Organisational culture, including responsibilities with regard to values of equality, diversity and inclusion
- Professional appointments
- Pressure to breach the fundamental principles
- Having the strength of character to act appropriately
- Speak Up? Listen Up? Whistleblow?
2021 ICAS Code of Ethics applicable from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021.
View the 2021 ICAS Code of Ethics (excluding Part 5 - Insolvency Practitioners)
With effect from 1 January 2021, amendments were incorporated into the ICAS Code of Ethics to emphasise the responsibilities of CAs in relation to values of equality, diversity and inclusion, and to align Part 4B to ISAE 3000 (Revised). Guidance to the ICAS Code of Ethics in relation to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is available here.
The ICAS Code of Ethics – An overview
The ICAS Code of Ethics (the “Code”) is substantively based on the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) Code of Ethics.
The Code applies to all members of ICAS, affiliates, students, employees of a member firm or an affiliate, and member firms where relevant. These are referred to in the Code as "professional accountants ".
Professional accountants have a responsibility to take into consideration the public interest and to maintain the reputation of the accountancy profession. Personal self-interest must not prevail over those duties.
The Code helps professional accountants to meet these obligations by providing them with ethical requirements and application material. Failure to follow the Code may lead to a professional accountant becoming liable to disciplinary action as outlined in Chapter 13 of the ICAS Rules.
The Code establishes the five fundamental principles of professional ethics for all professional accountants:
- Professional competence and due care
- Professional behaviour
It provides a conceptual framework that professional accountants shall apply to ensure adherence to these fundamental principles.
The conceptual framework requires professional accountants to identify threats to compliance with the fundamental principles; evaluate the threats identified; and address the threats by eliminating or reducing them to an acceptable level. It requires professional accountants to exercise professional judgement; to remain alert for new information or changes to the facts or circumstances and re-evaluate if necessary; and to apply the “reasonable and informed third party test”.
The ICAS Code of Ethics - structure
The ICAS Code of Ethics is divided into the following parts. It is of note however that whilst the Code is grouped into these parts, professional accountants may find any of them of use in relevant circumstances.
Guide to the Code
The Guide to the Code is a valuable (non-authoritative) aid to assist all users to navigate the Code. It provides helpful guidance on how the Code is structured and how to use the Code.
Part 1 - Complying with the Code, Fundamental Principles and Conceptual Framework (Sections 100 to 199)
Part 1 is applicable to all professional accountants. It includes discussion on the fundamental principles and the conceptual framework.
Part 2 - Professional Accountants in Business (Sections 200 to 299)
Part 2 sets out the additional material that applies to professional accountants in business.
Professional accountants in business include professional accountants employed, engaged or contracted in an executive or non-executive capacity in, for example:
- Commerce, industry or service
- The public sector
- The not-for-profit sector
- Regulatory or professional bodies
Part 2 is also applicable to individuals who are professional accountants in public practice when performing professional activities pursuant to their relationship with the firm, whether as a contractor, employee or owner.
Part 3 – Professional Accountants in Public Practice (Sections 300 to 399)
Part 3 provides additional material that applies to professional accountants in public practice when providing professional services .
It also applies to professional accountants in business in relevant circumstances.
Part 4 - International Independence Standards
Part 4 sets out additional material that applies to professional accountants in public practice when providing assurance services as follows:
- Part 4A – Independence for Audit and Review Engagements (Sections 400 to 899).
- Part 4B – Independence for Assurance Engagements Other than Audit and Review Engagements (Sections 900 to 999).
FRC Ethical Standard: Auditors undertaking an audit in the UK are required to comply with the requirements of the Financial Reporting Council's Ethical Standard. There is therefore no requirement on auditors undertaking an audit in the UK to also comply with Part 4A.
As well as applying to audits undertaken in accordance with ISAs (UK), the FRC’s Ethical Standard also applies to all other public interest assurance engagements that are undertaken in compliance with engagement standards issued by the FRC.
Part 5 – Insolvency Practitioners.
The specific provisions for Insolvency Practitioners when performing insolvency or similar engagements are in Part 5 of the ICAS Code of Ethics. Part 5 became effective from 1 May 2020. For Insolvency Practitioners, Part D of the Code (applicable from 1 January 2014) continued to be applicable until 30 April 2020. The 2020 Revised and Restructured ICAS Code of Ethics was otherwise applicable to Insolvency Practitioners with effect from 1 January 2020.
The Glossary is applicable to all professional accountants.
Relevant ICAS help-sheets providing additional explanatory material to the Code are referenced at the end of the related sections of the Code.
ICAS case studies
ICAS case studies provide additional guidance on how to use the Code.
2020 ICAS Code of Ethics applicable from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
ICAS adopted a new Revised and Restructured Code of Ethics with effect from 1 January 2020 which replaced the previous version (applicable from 1 November 2017 to 31 December 2019). IESBA had undertaken a project to completely redesign its Code of Ethics. IESBA’s intention behind this restructuring of the Code was not to fundamentally change the substance of the Code, but to improve its clarity thereby making it more user friendly.
The main changes in the 2020 Revised and Restructured ICAS Code of Ethics were in the following areas:
- The structure of the Code
- An enhanced conceptual framework
- Safeguards – a revised definition
- Inducements (including gifts and hospitality) – inclusion of a new intent test
- New and revised sections for Professional Accountants in Business (PAIBs) on pressure to breach the fundamental principles and preparation and presentation of information
- Documentation - including written confirmation of fee arrangements
- Objectivity – loans and guarantees with clients