Rule 3101. Certain Terms Used in Auditing and Related Professional Practice Standards.
[This version of the rule will be effective as of December 31, 2016. The current version of the rule can be found here.]
(a) The Board's auditing and related professional practice standards use certain terms set forth in this rule to describe the degree of responsibility that the standards impose on auditors.
(1) Unconditional Responsibility: The words "must," "shall," and "is required" indicate unconditional responsibilities. The auditor must fulfill responsibilities of this type in all cases in which the circumstances exist to which the requirement applies. Failure to discharge an unconditional responsibility is a violation of the relevant standard and Rule 3100.
(2) Presumptively Mandatory Responsibility: The word "should" indicates responsibilities that are presumptively mandatory. The auditor must comply with requirements of this type specified in the Board's standards unless the auditor demonstrates that alternative actions he or she followed in the circumstances were sufficient to achieve the objectives of the standard. Failure to discharge a presumptively mandatory responsibility is a violation of the relevant standard and Rule 3100 unless the auditor demonstrates that, in the circumstances, compliance with the specified responsibility was not necessary to achieve the objectives of the standard.
Note: In the rare circumstances in which the auditor believes the objectives of the standard can be met by alternative means, the auditor, as part of documenting the planning and performance of the work, must document the information that demonstrates that the objectives were achieved.
(3) Responsibility To Consider: The words "may," "might," "could," and other terms and phrases describe actions and procedures that auditors have a responsibility to consider. Matters described in this fashion require the auditor's attention and understanding. How and whether the auditor implements these matters in the audit will depend on the exercise of professional judgment in the circumstances consistent with the objectives of the standard.
Note: If a Board standard provides that the auditor "should consider" an action or procedure, consideration of the action or procedure is presumptively mandatory, while the action or procedure is not.
(b) The terminology in paragraph (a) of this rule applies to the responsibilities imposed by the auditing and related professional practice standards, including the interim standards.
[Effective pursuant to SEC Release No. 34-50331, File No. PCAOB-2004-06 (September 8, 2004); SEC Release No. 34-72087, File No. PCAOB-2013-03 (May 2, 2014); and SEC Release No. 34-75935, File No. PCAOB-2015-01 (September 17, 2015)]