The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants has released a new paper proposing to restructure the code of ethics for accountants.

IESBA, which operates under the auspices of the International Federation of Accountants, released for public comment on Tuesday its consultation paper, Improving the Structure of the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. The paper seeks input from stakeholders on approaches that could be taken to improve the clarity and usability of the code of ethics to facilitate its adoption, effective implementation and consistent application.

Among the matters under consideration are restructuring the code of ethics to more clearly distinguish requirements from guidance; reorganizing the content of, including rebranding the ethics code, or parts of it, as international standards; identifying responsibility for compliance with the ethics code in particular circumstances; and simplifying the wording of the code so it can be more readily understood.

“This is a seminal initiative which could result in a completely new presentation of the code that would make it more accessible, understandable, and enforceable,” said interim IESBA chair Wui San Kwok in a statement. “These aims are central to enhancing the usability of the code and thereby its further adoption globally in the public interest.”

The paper includes illustrative examples of how a restructured code of ethics might be presented. The input received from the consultation will supplement IESBA’s research and its views of the way forward, eventually leading to the publication of an exposure draft containing the Ethics Board’s proposals for restructuring the code and addressing any of the related issues set out in the paper.

“The board has received strong support from stakeholders to take a fresh look at the structure of the code as a priority,” said IESBA technical director Ken Siong. “The current thinking is that an improved structure would provide a platform for future development and maintenance of the code, and allow for more user-friendly features, including increased search and query capabilities.”

In connection with this project, a Web-based version of the code—to enhance accessibility and navigability—is currently in development and will be launched later this month.

To access the consultation paper and submit a comment, visit the Ethics Board’s Web site at www.ethicsboard.org. IESBA is asking for comments by Feb. 4, 2015.

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