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Code of ethics - the five fundamental principles

The ACA is the badge of the highest ethical and professional standards. As a chartered accountant student, you are bound by ICAEW's code of ethics, which is based on the five fundamental principles below.

ICAEW Code of Ethics

The Code helps our members meet these obligations by providing them with ethical guidance.

More information about the ICAEW Code of Ethics

ICAEW's code of ethics in place to 31 December 2010 replaced ICAEW's guide to professional ethics on 1 September 2006. A revised code of ethics applies from 1 January 2011. The substance of this code is the same as our previous Guide to Professional Ethics but the layout and structure of the new code is more user friendly.

The five fundamental principles

1) Integrity

A professional accountant should be straightforward and honest in all professional and business relationships.

2) Objectivity

A professional accountant should not allow bias, conflict of interest or undue influence of others to override professional or business judgments.

3) Professional competence and due care

A professional accountant has a continuing duty to maintain professional knowledge and skill at the level required to ensure that a client or employer receives competent professional services based on current developments in practice, legislation and techniques. A professional accountant should act diligently and in accordance with applicable technical and professional standards.

4) Confidentiality

A professional accountant should respect the confidentiality of information acquired as a result of professional and business relationships and should not disclose any such information to third parties without proper and specific authority unless there is a legal or professional right or duty to disclose. Confidential information acquired as a result of professional and business relationships should not be used for the personal advantage of the professional accountant or third parties.

5) Professional behaviour

A professional accountant should comply with relevant laws and regulations and should avoid any action that discredits the profession.

ICAEW leading the way

ICAEW pioneered the principles based threats and safeguards approach to ethics (explained in an overview of the code of ethics). This approach has now been adopted by IFAC (the International Federation of Accountants, of which we are a member body) and the EC among others. We have also produced ground-breaking work on sustainability. For information on current developments in ethics, see icaew.com/ethics.