APES 215 Forensic Accounting Services

Content Summary


APES 215 Forensic Accounting Services sets out mandatory requirements and guidance for members who provide forensic accounting services.

Scope and application

APES 215 took effect on 1 July 2009 and was revised in December 2013 and December 2015. The revised standard is effective for engagements or assignments commencing on or after 1 April 2016. The Standard requires members in Australia to adhere to its mandatory requirements when they perform forensic accounting services. Members outside of Australia must follow the mandatory requirements of APES 215 unless they are prevented from doing so by local laws or regulations.

There may be instances where professional activities, when commenced, are not forensic accounting services but later become such services. The requirements of the standard must be followed from the time an activity becomes a forensic accounting service. Similarly, a forensic accounting service that is not an expert witness service may later become an expert witness service. When this occurs the requirements of the expert witness service of the standard must be applied from that time onwards.

Fundamental responsibilities of members

APES 215 requires members to observe and comply with their public interest obligations when they provide forensic accounting services. The Standard also reminds members of their professional obligations established in accordance with APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (Code) in respect of:

  • Section 100 – introduction and fundamental principles
  • Section 110 – integrity
  • Section 120 – objectivity
  • Section 130 – professional competence and due care
  • Section 140 – confidentiality
  • Section 220 – conflict of interest
  • Section 280 – objectivity – all services

APES 215 imposes an obligation to members to comply with the independence definition when they provide forensic accounting services that require independence or when they purport to be independent and with Section 290 – Independence of the Code when a forensic accounting service is an assurance engagement.

Expert witness service

APES 215 imposes mandatory obligations on members who provide expert witness services. It also requires members who provide expert witness services, subject to any legal requirements or restrictions, to communicate a number of elements in any report.

APES 215 reminds members that in providing an expert witness service their paramount duty is to the Court and that they need to assist the Court in an objective and unbiased manner. A member has an obligation to make it clear to the Court when a matter falls outside the member's expertise and has a duty not to be an advocate for a party.

The information that a member needs to communicate in an expert witness report is a mandatory requirement of the standard, and includes among other elements:

  • oral or written instructions received
  • limitation on the scope of work performed
  • whether any opinions, findings or conclusions are not based on the member's specialised knowledge
  • any relationships the member or the member's firm or the member's employer has with any of the parties to the proceedings that may compromise compliance with the fundamental principles of the Code or the member's paramount duty to the Court and any appropriate safeguards implemented
  • the significant facts and assumptions upon which opinions or other evidence is based
  • any restrictions on the use of the report
  • a statement that the expert witness service was conducted in accordance with the Standard.

Refer to the standard for information concerning

  • scope and application
  • definitions
  • fundamental responsibilities of members
  • professional engagement matters
  • expert witness services
  • false or misleading information and changes in opinion
  • quality control
  • professional fees
  • facts, assumptions and opinions
  • decision tree to determine the type of forensic accounting service
  • examples of forensic accounting services