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Auditor Independence Ethical Standards overview pre-2011

Legislation has required ICAEW to adopt the Ethical Standards for Auditors, issued by the Auditing Practices Board (APB).

Requirements in the UK and Ireland

As noted in the approach, scope and authority of the code of ethics (PDF 95KB/4 pages), when conducting audit engagements in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, members should comply with the requirements of the APB's Ethical Standards for Auditors.

The provisions of the APB's ethical standards apply to all audits which commenced on or after 15 December 2004. Revised standards were issued on 4 April 2008, which apply to audits of periods which commenced on or after 6 April 2008.

In October 2009 the APB revised its Ethical Standard 3: 'Long Association with the Audit Engagement' which amends the rotation requirements for audit engagement partners and engagement quality control review partners.

In July 2010, the APB issued another consultation on the provision of non-audit services by auditors to the entities they audit. The proposals include additional fee and governance disclosures for listed company audits, and some additional prohibitions and other requirements to be included in the APB Ethical Standards that UK auditors are required to follow. Most of these apply only to listed company audits but the consultation asks whether in some areas they should apply to all audits. ICAEW will be submitting a detailed response by the due date of 23 October. Read ICAEW's initial reaction to this consultation

Requirements in other countries

When undertaking audit engagements other than in the UK and Ireland, or in accordance with UK and Ireland auditing standards, members should comply with the requirements of Section 290 of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Code of Ethics.


Audit firms which constitute a network are, by and large, required to be independent of each other's clients, under both the APB and IFAC standards. Determining what is a network is not a straightforward issue but guidance is available.

General independence policy issues

ICAEW engages in frequent debate with national and international regulators on independence issues. We continue to believe that a principles based approach is the most appropriate.

Support for members

The ethics advisory services web pages include answers to frequently asked questions on the APB ethical standards. These FAQ's have been agreed between the CCAB member bodies and represent a joint understanding of the APB ESs. We do not believe the APB would be likely to disagree with these views.

For more information