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Need to know: New ICAEW Code of Ethics from 2020

ICAEW has issued an updated Code of Ethics, effective from 1 January 2020. “There are three main things for members to be aware of,” says Sophie Wales, ICAEW Integrity and Law Manager.

Firstly, most of the underlying requirements are the same as the previous version but appear different because the code has been restructured. Secondly, ICAEW has added material on certain topics, without changing the substance of the requirements. Lastly, while all members have to be aware of new sections on non-compliance with laws and regulations (NOCLAR), the ability to breach confidentiality in the public interest has been part of the ICAEW code for many years.

Why was the code restructured?

“To improve navigation and clarity,” says Wales. “Content is presented more consistently across sections, some of the more complex sentences have been simplified and ‘add-on’ material from ICAEW has been streamlined.”

This reflects recent restructuring by the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants of the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants on which ICAEW’s code is based. ICAEW has added material to offer more discussion on some topics and enhance robustness in some areas.

What does the add-on material relate to?

“There are new sections on conflicts of interest, breaches of the code, inducements and material for professional accountants in business, where requirements that were previously implicit have been made more explicit. There are also some new sections on NOCLAR and these are more significant.”

What has changed around NOCLAR?

“The code has for many years said that an accountant can in certain circumstances breach confidentiality if it is in the public interest to do so. However, the new code introduces a lot of new material on NOCLAR for members in business and practice to guide them through the steps they should take. ICAEW is making additional support material available on this area.”

How can members learn more about how they will be affected?

“We have recorded a webinar outlining the main changes to the code. There are also a number of guidance and support documents available to help members. The updated ICAEW Code of Ethics, support material, and information on key changes and transitional measures can be found here.