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ICAEW Code of Ethics to 31 December 2019

ICAEW's Code of Ethics (the Code) applies to all members, students, affiliates, employees of member firms and, where applicable, member firms, in all of their professional and business activities, whether remunerated or voluntary.

Code of Ethics located in 'regulations, standards and guidance online' is best for online viewing and includes links to cross-references and definitions.

The PDFs are best for downloading and printing:

About the Code

Chartered Accountants are expected to demonstrate the highest standards of professional conduct and to take into consideration the public interest. Ethical behaviour by Chartered Accountants plays a vital role in ensuring public trust in financial reporting and business practices and upholding the reputation of the accountancy profession.

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

The Code replaced one which applied from 1 September 2006 to 31 December 2010. This in turn replaced ICAEW's Guide to Professional Ethics on 1 September 2006.

revised Code of Ethics version applies from 1 January 2011. Section 241 was revised with effect from 1 January 2013 to reflect the FSA's new investment business regime. In addition, cross references in Section 290 to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) requirements on auditor independence were changed on 1 January 2017 to reflect the change in those requirements in 2016 (see below re auditor independence).

ICAEW’s Code of Ethics is based on the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants of the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) published by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC)’ Code of Ethics in 2009 and is used with permission of IFAC*.

The IESBA Code has adopted the principles-based approach pioneered by ICAEW. Additional guidance (indicated in the Code in a grey frame) is included by ICAEW in areas that have been found to be of particular relevance to our members in the past or reflecting the particular environment in the UK.

The IESBA Code of Ethics does not apply directly to ICAEW members. However, the main accountancy bodies throughout the world, including ICAEW and the CCAB bodies, are required to comply with the principles included in the IESBA Code of Ethics.

Auditor independence

For audits in accordance with ISAs (UK), the independence requirements of the FRC Ethical Standard apply instead of the detailed requirements of Section 290 of the ICAEW Code. Although a number of detailed provisions vary between the FRC Ethical Standard and Section 290, both sets of requirements apply a robust principles based approach to the fundamental requirement for independence. ICAEW does not consider it in the public interest to require auditors to have to apply both sets of detailed requirements. Therefore in accordance with paragraph 8 of SMO4 (a statement of obligations for IFAC member bodies, to which ICAEW subscribes), ICAEW considers that auditors applying the FRC Ethical Standard will be considered to have applied the independence requirements of the ICAEW Code.

Structure of the Code

The Code sets out five fundamental principles, which guide members’ behaviour:

  • Integrity
  • Objectivity
  • Professional competence and due care
  • Confidentiality
  • Professional behaviour

Members are responsible for assessing threats to complying with those principles and for implementing safeguards where those threats are significant. The Code includes a number of Sections covering situations that members might be likely to encounter and suggests, or in some cases, requires, specific courses of action.

The Code of Ethics overview (PDF 92KB/6 pages) sets out the basic approach, ethical conflict resolution framework, code contents and sources of advice.

Disciplinary action

ICAEW is committed to enforcing the Code through disciplining members who do not meet reasonable ethical and professional expectations of the public and other members. ICAEW assesses all complaints to determine if they constitute a disciplinary matter. Failure to follow the Code may result in a member becoming liable to disciplinary action.

Sources of Advice

A series of helpsheets and other guidance notes are available to members, on aspects of the Code of Ethics. 

Members who are in doubt as to their ethical position may seek advice from the following sources:

*Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants © 2009 by the International Federation of Accountants. International Federation of Accountants”, “IFAC”, “International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants”, “IESBA” and their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC).