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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Matters of material significance: a guide for auditors and independent examiners

Matters of material significance are items which independent examiners and auditors must report to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland should they encounter them while handling the accounts of a charity.

Matters of material significance: a guide for auditors and independent examiners, which is available below, is published in conjunction with the UK’s other charity regulators – the Charity Commission for England and Wales (CCEW) and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). This guidance was updated in April 2020 to provide further examples and clarity on matters to report, particularly with respect to modified opinions. The feedback statement below sets out why the UK charity regulators decided to update this guidance, the consultative process followed, and the changes made in light of the feedback received.

The matters have been agreed by the three charity regulators and are effective for all audits or independent examinations which are conducted and/or reported after 1 May 2017 (regardless of the accounting period being examined).

If, as an auditor or independent examiner, you become aware of a reportable matter, you can alert the Commission using the online Concern about a charity: form:

Concern about a charity: form

Download CCNI EG058 Matters of material significance: a guide for auditors and independent examiners PDF (1 MB)

Download Matters of material significance feedback statement - June 2020 PDF (128.7 KB)

 Reporting at times of national emergency

The charity regulators recognise that at times of national emergency the normal conduct of an external audit or an independent examination may be disrupted. In times of national emergency, unless the legal duty to report is relaxed by the Government, the auditor or examiner must still report matters of material significance. However, where a modified opinion, an emphasis of matter, or a matter identified by the independent examiner is solely due to the exceptional circumstances of the national emergency affecting the conduct of the audit or the independent examination then this is not considered to be reportable as a matter of material significance to the charity regulator. This is because remedying this situation is not in the power of the auditor or examiner, the preparer of the charity’s accounts, or the charity regulator.

Examples of such exceptional circumstances are detailed below.

  • Access restrictions prevent the auditor or examiner for reviewing accounting records and/ or from obtaining the assurances required
  • Limitations of scope are identified due to the control measures imposed to deal with a national emergency