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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Examining Accounts: Accountants and Auditors: Who can Audit?

The Companies Act 2006 consolidates previous legislation concerning the regulation and supervision of auditors. Only properly supervised and appropriately qualified auditors can be appointed. Statutory auditors must be registered with a supervisory body and must be eligible for appointment under the rules of that supervisory body.

The following bodies have been recognised by the Secretary of State

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland
  • The Chartered Association of Certified Accountants
  • The Association of Authorised Public Accountants.

The number of persons entitled to sign an audit report is much smaller than the total number of qualified accountants belonging to the bodies listed above. The professional bodies require their members to apply for a practising certificate before they can take responsibility for audits. Such certificates are held by accountants who are sole practitioners or partners offering services to the public in such areas as auditing, taxation and accounting.

In order to be granted a practising certificate, an accountant must show that he or she has had sufficient practical experience and maintains proper professional standards.

A person entitled to sign an audit report is described as a `Registered Auditor’ and you should normally find this term used on audit reports.

You should bear in mind that much audit work is delegated to junior staff, who may not be professionally qualified and probably under training.