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ICAEW Code of Ethics from 1 January 2020

Access the Code which is based on IESBA’s Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants and supporting materials.

Please note: Minor text changes were made to the Code of Ethics on 17 November 2023 to reflect changes in terminology and references in the 2023 update to ICAEW’s Disciplinary Framework. See list of amends

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.

A revised Code of Ethics applies from 1 January 2020. This replaces the Code which applied up to 31 December 2019.

Additional support material about the new code is available, including: overviews of the key requirements; documents indicating the source of the new code paragraphs; further discussion on the changes referred to below, including NOCLAR; and a helpsheet on corporate finance.

A webinar is available to guide you through the changes in the new Code of Ethics.

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) in 2018 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 italics) 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 Part 4A of the ICAEW Code. Although a number of detailed provisions vary between the FRC Ethical Standard and Part 4A, 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.


Additional ethical guidance and requirements for members engaged in tax work are included in ‘Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation’.

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 one-page summary sets out why we have a Code of Ethics and outlines the Fundamental Principles.

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 © 2018 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).

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