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Knowledge guide to International Standards on Auditing (ISA)

An overview of the history and development of International Standards on Auditing, with information on online and print sources for the standards.

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Timeline: History and development

Early history

Groundwork for an international set of standards for auditing began in 1969 with the publication of a number of reports focusing on international auditing by the Accountants International Study Group, comparing the situation in Canada, the UK and US. A few years later, the establishment of the International Accounting Standards Committee in 1973 generated many calls for a similar body to be set up on the auditing front.

Amongst the many calls was a well researched argument from Maurice Moonitz, Director of Accounting Research at AICPA, in his 1978 book ‘International Auditing Standards’ which set out the case for a set of standards, and went on to recommend the establishment of an International Auditing Standards Committee (IAudSC). The title from Moonitz is useful in comparing the situation worldwide prior to the adoption of an international set of standards, and in identifying the various calls for international standards at the time.

In the late 1970s the Council of International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) created the International Auditing Practices Committee (IAPC) which would be a standing committee of the IFAC Council and subsequently the IFAC Board (in May 2000 the IFAC Council was renamed the IFAC Board).

Between 1980 and 1991 the IAPC issued International Auditing Guidelines (IAG), and addendums to these. The first International Standard on Auditing (ISA) was issued in 1991, and this has remained the series to the present day.

Further reading

Robert Roussey wrote a useful article in October 1999, titled The Development of International Standards on Auditing in the New York State Society of CPA's CPA Journal on pages 14–20, which is available in full text online or in hard copy in the Library. The hard copy includes some charts and diagrams not reproduced in the online version.

2002

The IAPC was renamed as the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). Membership of the organisation was widened to include non-auditors.

2003

1 January 2003
The IAASB made available the full text of International Standards on Auditing for free on its website and stated that all future final pronouncements would be published for free online. Access to IAASB publications is available to users who register via the IFAC website.

21 May 2003
The European Commission issued the communication, Reinforcing the Statutory audit in the European Union (COM/2003/286) on 21 May 2003 which identified the requirement to use ISAs for all EU statutory audits from 2005 onwards as a short term priority. The communication was issued with the press release Audit of company accounts: Commission sets out ten priorities to improve quality and protect investors .

2004

6 May 2004
The Auditing Practices Board (replaced by the Audit and Assurance Council in July 2012) in the UK issued a press release announcing their intention to adopt the International Standards of Auditing (ISAs) issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB).

22 December 2004
The APB issued International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) (UK and Ireland). The APB press release stated that these would:

apply to all audits of financial statements for periods commencing on or after 15 December 2004. The APB's previous standards, Statements of Auditing Standards (SASs), are applied for audits of financial statements for periods commencing before that date.

2009

The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) completed a project (known as the ‘Clarity Project’) to update and reformat the International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) which sought ‘to improve the understandability of the ISAs and make them more compatible with regulatory frameworks, including the EC's Statutory Audit Directive’. The Clarified ISAs and other related documentation (including FAQs) are available from the IAASB Clarity Center.

2nd March 2009
The APB issued a press release announcing its intention to update UK and Irish Auditing Standards for the New International Standards on Auditing for 2010.

13 October 2009
The APB issued the press release The APB issues new ISAs (UK and Ireland) announcing the publication of new standards which will replace the existing ISAs (UK and Ireland) and ISQC (UK and Ireland) 1. The new standards will apply to audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after 15 December 2010.

The APB also issued a staff paper Summary of the Main Changes in the New ISAs (UK and Ireland) which was intended to assist those seeking to understand the changes.

Standards

International Auditing Guidelines, 1980-1991

The IAPC issued International Auditing Guidelines between 1980 and 1991. The Library & Information Service holds 33 guidelines and their supplements/addendums in its archives, but there are also a number of collations of summaries or full text that can be used to identify the guidelines in force at a particular date:

  • Summary of international guidelines on auditing and related services. [1991] Publisher: IFAC, 1991. Contains summaries of IAGs, nos.1-29 and IAG/RSs, nos.1-4.
  • Summary of international guidelines on auditing and related services. [1988] Publisher: IFAC, 1989. Contains summaries of IAGs 1-26 and IAG/RSs 1-2 as at December 31, 1988.
  • International accounting and auditing standards as of October 1,1988. [1988] Published for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants by Commerce Clearing House,Inc. 1988.
  • International auditing guidelines, 1-20. [1985] Publisher: ICAEW, 1985. Contains the full text of all International Auditing Guidelines extant at 1 September 1985.
  • International auditing guidelines [nos.1-15]. [1984] Publisher: Centre Belge de Normalisation de la

Between 1988 and 1990 the IAPC also issued four International Auditing Guideline/Related Services with the numeration RS1-RS4. By the time the 1993 IFAC Handbook was released these had become ISA/RS1-4. Later handbooks listed them as standards under the section of related services without any reference to RS numeration.

International Standards on Auditing (ISA), 1991-

The IAPC and its successor, the IAASB, have issued International Standards on Auditing since 1991.

At the time the IAPC stated:

National standards on auditing and related services published in many countries differ in form and content. The International Auditing Practices Committee (IAPC) takes cognizance of such documents and differences, and, in the light of such knowledge, issues ISAs, which are intended for international acceptance.

The standards can be accessed through the IAASB Handbook, available in full text from the IFAC website.

Clarified ISAs

In 2009 the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) completed a project (known as the ‘Clarity Project’) to update and reformat the International Standards on Auditing (ISAs). The Clarified ISAs are available from the IAASB Clarity Center.

The Auditing Practices Board (APB) issued new ISAs for the UK and Ireland in October 2009 which incorporate the clarified ISAs issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB). The new standards apply to audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after 15 December 2010.

We hold a number of articles and books on the clarified ISAs and you can view further details of these in our Reading list on clarified ISAs.

International Auditing Practice Statements (IAPS)

The IAPC periodically issued statements that do not have the authority of guidelines or standards, but which ran alongside these, aiding good practice or assisting with the practical implementation of the guidelines/standards. The first International Auditing Statement was issued in 1984, followed by a number of International Statements on Auditing between 1987 and 1990. Since 1991 these have all been converted to/and issued as International Auditing Practice Statements (IAPSs).

Some statements were issued as supplements to the ISA they relate to, for example International Auditing Practice Statements 1001-1003 were issued as Supplements 1-3 of ISA400.

The statements can be accessed through the IAASB Handbook, available in full text from the IFAC website.

ISA adoption

The International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB) have published an ISA Adoption Chart which shows where ISAs have been adopted or otherwise used as the basis of national standards.

Comparisons between ISAs and local auditing standards

US

Substantive differences between the International Standards on Auditing and Generally Accepted Auditing Standards ()
Detailed guide published by the AICPA in July 2013.

A comparison of US auditing standards with International Standards on Auditing: Moving toward convergence
Article from the April 2011 issue of CPA Journal examining key differences.

Sources for International Standards on Auditing

IFAC web site

The IFAC website includes the full text of all IAASB pronouncements in an electronic format including all International Standards on Auditing (ISA).

IFAC handbook

The handbook provides reference and background information about IFAC and currently effective pronouncements issued by the federation. Volumes covers:

  • IFAC general information
  • Statements of Policy of Council
  • International Professional Practice Statements
  • Ethics and International Standards on Auditing
  • International Education Guidelines
  • International Management Accounting Practice Statements
  • International Information Technology Guidelines
  • International Public Sector Accounting Guidelines
  • Codification of International Standards on Auditing and International Auditing Practice Statements.

We keep editions for 1993 onwards. See our full listing of holdings for this title.

FRC website

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) website provides the full text of the ISAs adapted for the UK and Ireland. These standards incorporate the ISAs issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB).

The Auditing Practices Board (replaced by the Audit and Assurance Council in July 2012) states that where necessary, they have 'augmented the international standards with additional requirements to address specific UK and Irish legal and regulatory requirements; and additional guidance that is appropriate in the UK and Irish national legislative, cultural and business context.'

ICAEW Library & Information Service

We hold a comprehensive collection of past and present standards, digests on ISAs and articles/books relating to the standards. You can search our collection using LibCat, our online catalogue.

LibCat search tip:

To find an ISA (for example, ISA 710) or books and journal articles on a particular standard, select Advanced Search in Libcat and enter ‘international standard on auditing 710’ in the Series search box.

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