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Definition of public practice

All members need to ascertain whether their activities constitute engaging in public practice.

Why is it important?

Members whose activities fall within the scope of the definition of engaging in public practice will usually require a Practising Certificate and professional indemnity insurance, and fall within the scope of Practice Assurance.

The definition

You are engaged in public practice if you are a principal or are held out as a principal in:

  • a) a public practitioner; or
  • b) the parent of a public practitioner; or
  • c) an entity which is a principal of a public practitioner.

You are a principal if you are:

  • a) a member in sole practice
  • b) a salaried or equity partner of a partnership, a member of a limited liability partnership (designated and non-designated members), a statutory (de jure) director, a de facto director or a shadow director of a company; or
  • c) a member ‘held out’ as a principal. 

    Detailed guidance

    The ICAEW Statement on engaging in public practice provides detailed guidance on interpreting the definition in your own situation.

    It considers a wide range of circumstances including sub-contractors, ex-principals, consultants, groups of entities, retired members, voluntary work and interim managers.  It details the services which are and are not usually regarded as accountancy services and includes a flowchart for determining your status.

    Anyone in any doubt as to their public practice status after consulting the ICAEW Statement should contact the free helpline on +44 (0)1908 248 250.