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IESBA Reinforces Auditor Independence Provisions; Further Limits Exceptions and Clarifies Guidance around Non-Assurance Services

Apr 14, 2015 | New York, New York | English

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants® (IESBA®, the Ethics Board) today released Changes to the Code Addressing Certain Non-Assurance Services Provisions for Audit and Assurance Clients. The changes enhance the independence provisions in the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants™ (the Code) by, in particular, no longer permitting auditors to provide certain prohibited non-assurance services to public interest entity (PIE) audit clients in emergency situations, and ensuring that they do not assume management responsibility when providing non-assurance services to audit clients.

“Auditor independence is foundational to public trust in the external audit,” said IESBA Chairman Dr. Stavros Thomadakis. “These enhancements will not only further reinforce independence but also promote greater consistency of application of the Code’s provisions in the 100-plus jurisdictions around the world where the Code is currently in use.”

The revisions include the removal of provisions that permitted an audit firm to provide certain bookkeeping and taxation services to PIE audit clients in emergency situations, as these were susceptible to being interpreted too generally. In addition, the revised provisions include:

  • New and clarified guidance regarding what constitutes management responsibility; and
  • Clarified guidance regarding the concept of “routine or mechanical” services relating to the preparation of accounting records and financial statements for audit clients that are not PIEs.

The revisions also include corresponding changes to the Code’s non-assurance services provisions with respect to other assurance clients.

“These changes focus on a few select, but important, areas of the Code. Nonetheless, the board continues to explore other areas where there may be a need for further enhancement,” noted IESBA Technical Director Ken Siong. “In this regard, the board has recently launched a new project that will review the clarity, appropriateness, and effectiveness of the safeguards against threats to auditor independence in the Code, particularly as these relate to the provision of non-assurance services to audit clients.”

To access the revised pronouncement, visit the IESBA website: The changes will be effective April 15, 2016, with early adoption permitted. See the final pronouncement for details.

About the IESBA
The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) is an independent standard-setting board that develops and issues, in the public interest, high-quality ethical standards and other pronouncements for professional accountants worldwide. Through its activities, the IESBA develops the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, which establishes ethical requirements for professional accountants. The structures and processes that support the operations of the IESBA are facilitated by IFAC. Please visit for more information.

About IFAC
The International Federation of Accountants® (IFAC®) is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. IFAC is comprised more than 175 members and associates in 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.5 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.