The ACCA Code of Ethics and Conduct (the Code) is binding on all members and students of ACCA, and any partner (or director) in an ACCA practice. The ACCA Code is based on the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) Code, and the fundamental principles set out by ACCA are the same as those of IESBA.
How to use the Code
This Code is set out in four parts:
- Part A: applicable to all professional accountants
- Part B: applicable to professional accountants working in public practice
- Part C: applicable to professional accountants in business
- Part D: applicable to professional accountants in the United Kingdom who are insolvency practitioners.
However, professional accountants may find the contents of any Part of the Code applicable to their specific circumstances.
Part A - establishes the fundamental principles of professional ethics for accountants and provides a conceptual framework that professional accountants shall apply to:
(a) identify threats to compliance with the fundamental principles;
(b) evaluate the significance of the threats identified; and
(c) apply safeguards, when necessary, to eliminate the threats or reduce them to an acceptable level.
In determining whether any threats are at an acceptable level, the accountant shall take into account whether a reasonable and informed third party would be likely to conclude, weighing all the specific facts and circumstances available to the accountant at that time, that compliance with the fundamental principles is not compromised. A professional accountant shall use professional judgment in applying this conceptual framework.
Parts B and C - describe how the conceptual framework applies in certain situations.
They provide examples of safeguards that may be appropriate to address threats to compliance with the fundamental principles. They also describe situations where safeguards are not available to address the threats, and consequently, the circumstance or relationship creating the threats shall be avoided. Part B applies to professional accountants in public practice and Part C applies to professional accountants in business.
Non-compliance with the Code
An ACCA registered member or student who fails to comply with the Code will be liable to disciplinary action. Two committees have been appointed by Council to enforce ACCA’s ethical standards: Disciplinary Committee and Appeal Committee. The committees derive their powers from the bye-laws. Members and students failing to observe the standards expected of them may be required to answer a complaint before ACCA’s Disciplinary Committee.
The five fundamental ethical principles set out in the ACCA Rulebook are:
- Integrity - being straightforward and honest in all professional and business relationships
- Objectivity - not allowing bias, conflicts of interest or undue influence of others to override professional or business judgements
- Professional Competence and Due Care - to maintain professional knowledge and skill at a level required to ensure that a client or employer receives competent professional service based on current developments in practice, legislation and techniques and act diligently and in accordance with applicable technical and professional standards
- Confidentiality – to respect the confidentiality of information acquired as a result of professional and business relationships and, therefore, not disclose any such information to third parties without proper and specific authority, unless there is a legal or professional right or duty to disclose, nor use the information for the personal advantage of the professional accountant or third parties
- Professional Behaviour – to comply with relevant laws and regulations and avoid any action that discredits the profession.