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Auditing - key topics

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Published: 05 Nov 2020 Reviewed: 05 Nov 2020 Update History

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Technical helpsheet highlighting important areas affecting auditing in challenging times.


In what has, and continues to be, a challenging period for auditors, ICAEW’s Technical Advisory Service highlights hot topics.

Members may also wish to refer to the following related helpsheets:

COVID 19 - Going concern

The definition of going concern; management and auditor responsibilities relating to going concern; and the implications for the audit report have not changed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, a range of resources have been produced to assist auditors with going concern related considerations during these difficult times including the article Coronavirus, going concern and the auditor’s report, the guide Coronavirus: (COVID-19): Considering going concern and the guide Coronavirus: Introducing reverse stress testing.

COVID 19 - Emphasis of matter paragraphs

Emphasis of matter paragraphs are used where an auditor judges a matter presented or disclosed in the financial statements to be of such importance that it is fundamental to users’ understanding of the financial statements. Whilst coronavirus may lead to such a consideration, even in the unprecedented circumstances brought about by the pandemic, such paragraphs are not expected to be commonplace. Widespread use of emphasis of matter paragraphs may diminish the effectiveness of the auditor’s communication about important matters. Further information, including relevant examples, is available in the guide How to report an emphasis of matter under COVID-19: a guide for auditors.

COVID 19 - Wider accounting issues

The impact of the pandemic on the financial statements will vary considerably between different entities and their particular facts and circumstances. Auditors may wish to refer to the Checklist: implications of COVID-19 for the preparation of accounts under FRS 102 and/or Checklist: implications of COVID-19 for the preparation of micro-entity accounts (FRS 105) (as appropriate) which highlight key areas for consideration. The Coronavirus UK GAAP hub also offers access to a wide range of resources and guidance.

Filing deadlines

As a result of the pandemic, extensions to filing deadlines are available for many organisations. Guidance on these extensions is available in the Coronavirus: Filing deadlines guide produced by the Financial Reporting Faculty. Auditors should effectively utilise any extension taken by their clients to undertake the additional audit procedures, and gather further audit evidence, which may be required in response to the additional risks and uncertainties arising out of these unprecedented times.


The current economic environment has given rise to increased fraud risk, particularly with respect to coronavirus-related support schemes, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Auditors should remain vigilant, exercise significant professional scepticism and where appropriate, carefully consider their anti-money laundering reporting obligations. Further information is available in the article Fraudulent COVID-19 claims: an ICAEW Chartered Accountant’s responsibilities.

Changes to international standards on auditing (ISAs)

Revisions to a number of UK auditing standards are effective for periods commencing on or after 15 December 2019 (early adoption permitted). These introduce additional requirements around going concern, reporting on irregularities and auditing estimates. More detail on these changes is available in the helpsheet Revisions to auditing standards from 15 December 2019.


Brexit continues to cause uncertainties for businesses and auditors need to be considering the implications for their audit clients. Further guidance available on The impact of Brexit on audit hub page.

If in doubt seek advice

ICAEW members, affiliates, ICAEW students and staff in eligible firms with member firm access can discuss their specific situation with the Technical Advisory Service on +44 (0)1908 248 250 or via webchat.

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ICAEW cannot accept responsibility for any person acting or refraining to act as a result of any material contained in this helpsheet. This helpsheet is designed to alert members to an important issue of general application. It is not intended to be a definitive statement covering all aspects but is a brief comment on a specific point.

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For further details members are invited to telephone the Technical Advisory Service T +44 (0)1908 248250. The Technical Advisory Service comprises the technical enquiries, ethics advice, anti-money laundering and fraud helplines. For further details visit icaew.com/tas.

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  • Update History
    01 Oct 2020 (12: 00 AM BST)
    First published
    05 Nov 2020 (12: 00 AM GMT)
    Changelog created, new helpsheet
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