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Consideration of Laws and Regulations in an Audit of Financial Statements – ISA 250

OCH Blog Auditoría 250

Este contenido es producido por OCH Group, Independent Member de GGI en Colombia.

Within the focus and interest that the auditor is framed, in addition to inspecting, examining and evaluating the administrative, accounting and financial operations of a company and that this in turn confirms that the records that feed the accounting are in accordance with the operation and the economic facts, there is also the auditor's consideration regarding compliance with the legal and regulatory provisions dictated by ISA 250. The objective of the standard is to allow the audit to identify material errors in the financial statements, caused by non-compliance with standards or laws. The auditor's responsibility lies in carrying out appropriate audit procedures that allow him to obtain evidence related to knowledge and correct compliance with the laws and regulations to which the company is subject.

Autor: Yovan Alfredo Saavedra Cabrejo

In accordance with ISA 250, regarding responsibilities in relation to the review and compliance with legal and regulatory provisions, it states the following:

 

“The effect on financial statements of laws and regulations varies considerably. Those laws and regulations to which an entity is subject constitute the legal and regulatory framework. The provisions of some laws or regulations have a direct effect on the financial statements in that they determine the reported amounts and disclosures in an entity’s financial statements. Other laws or regulations are to be complied with by management or set the provisions under which the entity is allowed to conduct its business but do not have a direct effect on an entity’s financial statements. Some entities operate in heavily regulated industries (such as banks and chemical companies). Others are subject only to the many laws and regulations that relate generally to the operating aspects of the business (such as those related to occupational safety and health, and equal employment opportunity). Non-compliance with laws and regulations may result in fines, litigation or other consequences for the entity that may have a material effect on the financial statements.”.

 

(…) Responsibility for Compliance with Laws and Regulations. It is the responsibility of management, with the oversight of those charged with governance, to ensure that the entity’s operations are conducted in accordance with the provisions of laws and regulations, including compliance with the provisions of laws and regulations that determine the reported amounts and disclosures in an entity’s financial statements.

 

(…) Responsibility of the Auditor. The requirements in this ISA are designed to assist the auditor in identifying material misstatement of the financial statements due to non-compliance with laws and regulations. However, the auditor is not responsible for preventing non-compliance and cannot be expected to detect noncompliance with all laws and regulations.

 

The auditor is responsible for obtaining reasonable assurance that the financial statements, taken as a whole, are free from material misstatement, whether caused by fraud or error.1 In conducting an audit of financial statements, the auditor takes into account the applicable legal and regulatory framework. Owing to the inherent limitations of an audit, there is an unavoidable risk that some material misstatements in the financial statements may not be detected, even though the audit is properly planned and performed in accordance with the ISAs.2 In the context of laws and regulations, the potential effects of inherent limitations on the auditor’s ability to detect material misstatements are greater for such reasons as the following:

 

  • There are many laws and regulations, relating principally to the operating aspects of an entity, that typically do not affect the financial statements and are not captured by the entity’s information systems relevant to financial reporting.
  • Non-compliance may involve conduct designed to conceal it, such as collusion, forgery, deliberate failure to record transactions, management override of controls or intentional misrepresentations being made to the auditor.
  • Whether an act constitutes non-compliance is ultimately a matter for legal determination by a court of law.

 

Based on the above, while there may be inherent limitations to the auditor’s ability to detect material misstatements, it is essential that the auditor perform appropriate audit procedures to ensure compliance with company regulations, as these can have an impact directly in the financial statements.

 

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