This article was first published in the January 2019 China edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

The ACCA Rulebook 2019 incorporates the restructured IESBA International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including International Independence Standards) within section A of the ACCA Code of Ethics and Conduct.

Key revisions include enhancements to safeguards, long association of personnel with audits, professional accountants in business and pressure to breach the fundamental principles, and offering and accepting inducements. Other significant changes are outlined below.

Changes to the Membership Regulations have been made to reflect the Ethics and Professional Skills module, and to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Changes to the Global Practising Regulations (GPRs) have been made to:

  • simplify the honorary reporting exemption provisions and enable members to undertake independent examinations for a charity whose gross income does not exceed £250,000
  • remove the requirement to hold an ACCA practising certificate for South African members, although specific requirements regarding tax practitioners are retained in accordance with the requirements of the South African Revenue Service.

Other changes to the GPRs include clarification that trust or company services do not constitute public practice and do not give rise to the need to hold a practising certificate. However, trust or company service providers not supervised by ACCA for anti-money laundering are required to register with HMRC.

Sometimes the Rulebook is amended for greater transparency, consistency and clarity, and to allow enhancements to regulatory and disciplinary processes, or to reflect changes in legislation. In 2019, such changes include:

  • new provisions relating to the service of notices and documents, including emails
  • referring to notices or documents being ‘served’, rather than ‘received’
  • extending the period for notification and submission of documents for the relevant person to 21 days.

Other practical changes are:

  • removing from the Complaints and Disciplinary Regulations the requirement to have a differently constituted Health Committee where the Disciplinary Committee orders referral to a health hearing
  • where an application to appeal has been refused by the chairman, removing the person’s right to request that their application be considered by an Appeal Committee; instead, permission to appeal may be considered by a second chairman
  • allowing concessions to be made by the respondent at any time during the appeal process
  • permitting the relevant person (as well as other parties) to request their fitness to participate in the proceedings be considered by the Health Committee.

Clarifications to the Authorisation Regulations include:

  • making the consideration of applications by a chairman alone on the papers the norm
  • bringing together all the publicity requirements, and requiring post-hearing publicity (with reasons), subject to a hearing (or part of a hearing) being held in private
  • an improved explanation of the limited circumstances in which a regulatory assessor’s decision would not be published
  • adding the requirements of the Statutory Auditors and Third Country Auditors Regulations 2016 with regard to sanctions and orders.