Force majeure considerations
Disclaimer: Events of an uncontrolled nature/force majeure include but are not limited to global catastrophes, crises, military or political conflicts, pandemics or other global events that affect the world community and disrupt the usual flow of political, economic, cultural, etc. life and activities within a region or country.
CPA Canada and the WebTrust Task Force acknowledge the potential impact of the events of an uncontrolled nature on WebTrust for Certification Authorities engagements and the desire for Certification Authorities to continue to demonstrate compliance with WebTrust and CA/B Forum requirements and maintain their trusted status. This was initially caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020; as a result, CPA Canada decided to introduce a temporary WebTrust seal (temporary seal) that could be issued in limited circumstances. Although the conditions creating the need for the temporary COVID-19 seal have passed, CPA Canada and the Task Force recognize there may be some circumstances where practitioner report qualifications can be the direct result of an inability to perform certain tests due to the events of an uncontrolled nature and/or imposed restrictions related to such events. In response, CPA Canada has decided to introduce a temporary WebTrust “Crisis” seal (temporary seal).
This temporary seal recognizes the extraordinary circumstances caused by the events of uncontrolled nature and is not intended to replace the traditional seal.
The temporary seal will be offered only in situations that meet the following criteria:
- the practitioner report has been qualified;
- the qualification is directly related to scope restrictions only (imposed as a result of the events of uncontrolled nature) and is disclosed in the practitioner report;
- there are no qualifications due to control deficiencies in the period.
These circumstances are described in the Practitioner Guidance. The Impact Of An Event Of An Uncontrolled Nature (“Force Majeure Event”) On Webtrust For Certification Authorities Engagements, Reporting And Seal Issuance
When a temporary seal has been granted, it is expected that a practitioner will be able to perform the procedures that could not be completed initially which gave rise to the scope limitation before the temporary seal expires. Where the practitioner is able to perform such procedures and is able to issue subsequently an unqualified report for the CA, the unqualified report could then be submitted to CPA Canada to obtain the traditional seal. Where the practitioner is not able to subsequently issue an unqualified report for the CA, the temporary seal will be deactivated.
To recognize the temporary nature of the circumstances, a temporary seal is permitted to remain on a CPA’s website for a maximum of six months from the end date of the period examined.
CPA Canada will monitor the events of an uncontrolled nature and based on the circumstances may discontinue the availability of the temporary seal.
The process for issuance of the temporary seal is as follows:
- The practitioner report is due within 90 days from the end of period being examined (no change from current requirements).
- If the practitioner report is unqualified, CPA Canada will provide a traditional WebTrust seal (assuming all necessary documentation is submitted to CPA Canada).
- For qualified reports:
- If the qualification is not related to the events of uncontrolled nature, no WebTrust seal will be provided.
- If the qualification relates to control deficiencies due to the effects of the events of uncontrolled nature, no WebTrust seal will be provided.
- If the qualification relates to a scope restriction caused by government-imposed travel/access restrictions during the restriction period caused by the events of uncontrolled nature and the practitioner is unable to obtain sufficient evidence through traditional and/or alternative techniques or procedures (as described in the Practitioner Guidance), a temporary seal will be provided. The format for the qualified practitioner report is discussed in the specific Practitioner Guidance. The same documentation required for an unqualified report is required to be submitted to CPA Canada.
- The temporary seal remains valid for six months from the end of the period examined.
- If within the six months the practitioner is able to carry out the procedures that gave rise to the scope limitation, they may submit a new unqualified report (where appropriate) to CPA Canada for the period examined. Upon review, CPA Canada will provide a traditional WebTrust to replace the temporary seal.
- If within the six months the necessary procedures have not been completed and a new unqualified report has not been received by CPA Canada, the temporary seal will be deemed expired and removed.
For further information or if you have any questions, please contact WebTrust.