GUIDELINES FOR PEER REVIEW OF ATTESTATION AND AUDIT SERVICES BY COMPANY SECRETARIES IN PRACTICE (AS AMENDED BY THE COUNCIL IN ITS 254TH (ADJ.) MEETING HELD ON 1ST SEPTEMBER, 2018)
The Company Secretaries Act, 1980 (the Act) was enacted to make provision for the regulation and development of the profession of Company Secretaries. The Institute of Company Secretaries of India set up under the said Act has been conducting examinations and prescribing standards for adherence by its members.
The concept of whole-time practice, which gained its initial recognition in 1988, got further momentum after the enactment of the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2000 which required Compliance Certificate to be issued by Practicing Company Secretary for certain size of companies. Members in practice are also being recognised for issuing certificates under various laws. The Companies Act, 2013, introduced concept of Secretarial Audit to specified class of companies, which shows confidence of the Regulators on the Profession of Company Secretaries.
Excellence is the hallmark of success in a competitive environment. The performance can be judged and enhanced to that level of excellence only by evaluation by a competent professional. The Council of the Institute, therefore, in its 202nd meeting held on 25th and 26th August, 2011 decided to introduce Peer Review for Practicing Company Secretaries to periodically review the Practice Units and evaluate the quality, sufficiency of systems, procedures and practices, so that excellence in their performance can be maintained.
The Council of the Institute has been constituted under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980 for discharging the functions assigned to the Institute under the Act. Section 15(1) of the Act provides that “The Institute shall function under the overall control, guidance and supervision of the Council and the duty of carrying out the provisions of the Act shall be vested in the Council”, and enumerates various other duties of the Council. With a view to regulate the profession of Company Secretaries and in terms of the powers vested, the Council is authorised to issue guidelines for Peer Review and also modify/ amend/ adopt new guidelines
from time to time. These guidelines serve as a mechanism intended to further enhance the quality of professional services rendered by Practicing Company Secretaries over a period of time, thereby ensuring that the profession of Company Secretaries continues to serve the society in the manner envisaged.
2.1 The main objective of Peer Review is to ensure that in carrying out their professional assignments; the Practice Units (a) comply with the Technical Standards laid down by the Institute and (b) have in place proper systems (including documentation systems) for maintaining the quality of the work they perform.
2.2 Peer Review is directed towards maintenance as well as enhancement of quality of Attestation and Audit Services and to
provide guidance to members to improve their performance and adhere to various statutory and other regulatory requirements.
Essentially, through a review of Attestation and Audit Services engagement records, Peer Review identifies the areas where a
practicing member may require guidance in improving the quality of his/her performance and adherence to various requirements as per applicable Technical Standards.
2.3 These guidelines provide a framework of the Peer Review process and the expectations from member during the process of Peer Review.
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