Illegal acts and the auditor


Fraser I, Hatherly DJ & Henry W (2004) Illegal acts and the auditor. Accounting Forum, 28 (2), pp. 99-118.

The extent to which auditing standards merely consolidate existing practice, as compared with the extent to which they are innovative and raise standards, is a matter of debate. This paper provides evidence on this issue in respect of the UK auditing standard SAS 120 concerned with the auditor's responsibilities for client illegal acts. Six case examples of illegal acts were developed and these formed the basis for interviews with forty-three practising auditors. It was found that auditors' assessments of their ability under current practice to discover specific illegal acts are significantly below their perceptions as to the need for these acts to be discovered. This indicates that auditors believe that their responsibilities in this area of the audit are not being adequately discharged. It was also found that auditor consensus appears to be an important consideration in the shaping of the standard and this is consistent with viewing auditing standards as consolidations of professional practice. However, it was also found that levels of consensus did vary and tended to be less in the case of less familiar illegal acts or those less proximate to the financial statements.

Illegal acts; Auditing standards; Professional debate; Audit techniques

Accounting Forum: Volume 28, Issue 2

Publication date30/06/2004