This Guidance Statement provides guidance to auditors when establishing and agreeing the conditions under which third parties are voluntarily granted access to their audit working papers and related documentation. Such documentation is required to be prepared in accordance with applicable Auditing Standards.[1] The protocols outlined in this Guidance Statement have resulted from consultation with practitioners, on the basis of a willingness by practitioners to co-operate in providing access to their audit working papers to third parties in certain circumstances.


The protocols in this Guidance Statement endeavour to promote cooperation when access to an auditor’s audit working papers is requested. Audit working papers are the auditor’s property, and they may, at their discretion, grant, decline or restrict access (subject to regulatory, legislative or other legal requirements). Each request to access audit working papers is decided on its merits. An auditor might, for example, exercise their discretion to restrict or decline access to their audit working papers when their audit fees are outstanding, or if litigation has commenced or is threatened (unless the auditor becomes compelled to produce audit working papers in connection with that litigation).


Regulators may also, pursuant to legislative requirements, request access to audit working papers. When access to audit working papers is required by a regulator, the auditor provides access in accordance with the requirements of the relevant legislation.


Auditing Standard ASA 230 Audit Documentation (paragraph 11) requires an auditor to prepare audit documentation that will enable an experienced auditor, having no previous connection with the audit, to understand: (a) the nature, timing and extent of the audit procedures performed, (b) results of the audit and evidence obtained and (c) significant matters arising during the audit and the conclusions reached thereon.