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The impact of the financial reporting review panel on aspects of the independence of auditors and their attitudes to compliance in the UK

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The UK Financial Reporting Review Panel (FRRP) enforces the regulatory framework for larger companies and requires companies to restate non-compliant accounts. It is authorized to deal with directors but not auditors. Recent UK based research indicates a belief that the FRRP's activities have enhanced auditor independence and changed attitudes to accounting compliance. Defective accounts indicate a lack of audit quality as the auditor must have failed to detect and/or prevent the de®ciency. By analysis of ®fteen semi-structured interviews with ®nance directors and audit ®rm partners with experience of an FRRP inquiry, and by review of publicly available information, the impact of the FRRP on some aspects of audit quality is sought. The FRRP is found to have motivated auditors to improve accounting compliance by increasing the possibility of some errors being exposed. It is also found to have enhanced the independence of auditors at the pre-conventional level of ethical cognition as identi®ed by Ponemon and Gabhart (1990), by changing the cost-bene®t for auditors of permitting non-compliance. FRRP inquiries cause auditors to incur non-recoverable costs, can undermine the auditorÿclient relationship and increase the risk of client loss. Personal embarrassment, possible career damage and the risk of an ICAEW disciplinary inquiry arise for the audit partner. The FRRP is found to provide auditors with an additional negotiating tool in dealing with directors, thus making in easier for auditors at the conventional and post conventional level of ethical cognition to prevent non-compliance. Direct evidence is, therefore, found that the FRRP's activities have provided incentives for all auditors to focus more on accounting compliance (at least for items visible from an inspection of the accounts) and have provided incentives and mechanisms for auditors at lower levels of ethical cognition to be independent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-139
Number of pages31
JournalThe British Accounting Review
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002

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