Scope of this Auditing Standard
This Auditing Standard deals with the independent auditor’s overall responsibilities when conducting an audit of a financial report in accordance with Australian Auditing Standards. Specifically, it sets out the overall objectives of the independent auditor, and explains the nature and scope of an audit designed to enable the independent auditor to meet those objectives. It also explains the scope, authority and structure of the Australian Auditing Standards, and includes requirements establishing the general responsibilities of the independent auditor applicable in all audits, including the obligation to comply with the Australian Auditing Standards. The independent auditor is referred to as “the auditor” hereafter.
Australian Auditing Standards are written in the context of an audit of a financial report by an auditor. They are to be applied as necessary in the circumstances to audits of other historical financial information. Australian Auditing Standards do not address the responsibilities of the auditor that may exist in legislation, regulation or otherwise in connection with, for example, the offering of securities to the public. Such responsibilities may differ from those established in the Australian Auditing Standards. Accordingly, while the auditor may find aspects of the Australian Auditing Standards helpful in such circumstances, it is the responsibility of the auditor to ensure compliance with all relevant legal, regulatory or professional obligations.
An Audit of a Financial Report
The purpose of an audit is to enhance the degree of confidence of intended users in the financial report. This is achieved by the expression of an opinion by the auditor on whether the financial report is prepared, in all material respects, in accordance with an applicable financial reporting framework. In the case of most general purpose frameworks, that opinion is on whether the financial report is presented fairly, in all material respects, or gives a true and fair view in accordance with the framework. An audit conducted in accordance with Australian Auditing Standards and relevant ethical requirements enables the auditor to form that opinion. (Ref: Para. A4)
The financial report subject to audit is that of the entity, prepared by management of the entity with oversight from those charged with governance. Australian Auditing Standards do not impose responsibilities on management or those charged with governance and do not override laws and regulations that govern their responsibilities. However, an audit in accordance with Australian Auditing Standards is conducted on the premise that management and, where appropriate, those charged with governance have acknowledged certain responsibilities that are fundamental to the conduct of the audit. The audit of the financial report does not relieve management or those charged with governance of their responsibilities. (Ref: Para. A5‑A14)
As the basis for the auditor’s opinion, Australian Auditing Standards require the auditor to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial report as a whole is free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error. Reasonable assurance is a high level of assurance. It is obtained when the auditor has obtained sufficient appropriate audit evidence to reduce audit risk (that is, the risk that the auditor expresses an inappropriate opinion when the financial report is materially misstated) to an acceptably low level. However, reasonable assurance is not an absolute level of assurance, because there are inherent limitations of an audit which result in most of the audit evidence on which the auditor draws conclusions and bases the auditor’s opinion being persuasive rather than conclusive. (Ref: Para. A31‑A57)
The concept of materiality is applied by the auditor both in planning and performing the audit, and in evaluating the effect of identified misstatements on the audit and of uncorrected misstatements, if any, on the financial report. In general, misstatements, including omissions, are considered to be material if, individually or in the aggregate, they could reasonably be expected to influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of the financial report. Judgements about materiality are made in the light of surrounding circumstances, and are affected by the auditor’s perception of the financial information needs of users of the financial report, and by the size or nature of a misstatement, or a combination of both. The auditor’s opinion deals with the financial report as a whole and therefore, the auditor is not responsible for the detection of misstatements that are not material to the financial report as a whole.
The Australian Auditing Standards contain objectives, requirements and application and other explanatory material that are designed to support the auditor in obtaining reasonable assurance. The Australian Auditing Standards require that the auditor exercise professional judgement and maintain professional scepticism throughout the planning and performance of the audit and, among other things:
- Identify and assess risks of material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error, based on an understanding of the entity and its environment, the applicable financial reporting framework and the entity’s system of internal control.
- Obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence about whether material misstatements exist, through designing and implementing appropriate responses to the assessed risks.
- Form an opinion on the financial report based on conclusions drawn from the audit evidence obtained.
The form of opinion expressed by the auditor will depend upon the applicable financial reporting framework and any applicable law or regulation. (Ref: Para. A15‑A16)
The auditor may also have certain other communication and reporting responsibilities to users, management, those charged with governance, or parties outside the entity, in relation to matters arising from the audit. These may be established by the Australian Auditing Standards or by applicable law or regulation.
[Deleted by the AUASB. Refer Aus 0.3]
See, for example, ASA 260 Communication with Those Charged with Governance and paragraph 43 of ASA 240 The Auditor’s Responsibilities Relating to Fraud in an Audit of a Financial Report.