FYI Article – Non-authoritative Guidance: To Follow or Not to Follow?

July 2015

Guidance that is identified as an integral part of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) is authoritative and, therefore, must be applied. But what about other material such as basis for conclusions documents, illustrative examples or even IFRS Interpretations Committee agenda decisions? Such material is referred to as non-authoritative guidance, and it is much less clear whether it needs to be applied.

Why Would You Be Interested?

If you agree there is ambiguity around applying non-authoritative guidance, then chances are you might want to learn about what was said by the IFRS Discussion Group, a committee of the Accounting Standards Board, to some commonly asked questions:  

  • Despite the fact that non-authoritative guidance is not mandatory, is the common view that it should still be followed?
  • If it is followed, should a resulting accounting change be applied prospectively or retrospectively?
  • If applied retrospectively, should the change be considered a change in accounting policy, a correction of an error or something else?

Perspectives of the Group

The Group discussed the following types of material that is non-authoritative:

  • IFRS Interpretations Committee agenda decisions (i.e., rejection notices);
  • staff agenda papers prepared for the International Accounting Standards Board or IFRS Interpretations Committee meetings; and
  • education materials produced by the IFRS Foundation. 

The Group shared a common view that while IFRS Interpretations Committee rejection notices are non-authoritative, it is expected that preparers would carefully consider them, especially if the fact pattern underlying the notice is similar to the situation that the entity is contemplating.

What about the other types of material or how to consider a change resulting from the application of non-authoritative guidance? To find out, read all about it in the Group’s meeting report or tune in to listen to the audio webcast

Other Application Issues

The Group discusses IFRS application issues on a wide range of topics. If you have an issue that you would like to submit, see submission requirements. For other discussions, check out the Group’s searchable database for past topics, or come to an upcoming meeting.   


Davina Tam, CPA, CA
Principal, Accounting Standards Board
Phone: +1 (416) 204-3514