The duty of confidentiality
requires that information acquired in the course of professional work should not be disclosed except where consent has been obtained from the client, employer or other proper source, or where there is a legal or professional right or duty to disclose.
A member acquiring information in the course of professional work should neither use nor appear to use that information for his personal advantage or for the advantage of a third party.
Where a member is in any doubt, the matter if appropriate should initially be discussed fully within his firm or organization. If not appropriate, or if it fails to resolve the problem, he should consider taking legal advice and/or consult ICPA (K)
Confidentiality in practice
An accountant should only act for a client on the understanding that the client will make full disclosure to him. In the absence of such an understanding the accountant should decline the appointment.
If during the course of an engagement, the client fails to furnish all the information considered necessary, the accountant should disclose this in his report. The accountant should also consider whether he can continue to act.
Sometimes in the course of his work an accountant may obtain information from a client that has a bearing on information supplied to him by another client.
In such circumstances, it would be breach of confidence to reveal the information to the second client without the permission of the first client.
The accountant should instead endeavour to substantiate the information with evidence obtained directly from the books and records of the second client. This may necessitate direct confirmation. Ultimately he may have to qualify his report or resign.