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Unformatted text preview: 5-1 Chapter 5 Legal Liability UReview Questions 5-1Several factors that have affected the increased number of lawsuits against CPAs are: 1. The growing awareness of the responsibilities of public accountants on the part of users of financial statements. 2. An increased consciousness on the part of the SEC regarding its responsibility for protecting investors' interests. 3. The greater complexities of auditing and accounting due to the increasing size of businesses, the globalization of business, and the intricacies of business operations. 4. Society's increasing acceptance of lawsuits. 5. Large civil court judgments against CPA firms, which have encouraged attorneys to provide legal services on a contingent fee basis. 6. The willingness of many CPA firms to settle their legal problems out of court. 7. The difficulty courts have in understanding and interpreting technical accounting and auditing matters. 5-2The most important positive effects are the increased quality control by CPA firms that is likely to result from actual and potential lawsuits and the ability of injured parties to receive remuneration for their damages. Negative effects are the energy required to defend groundless cases and the harmful impact on the public's image of the profession. Legal liability may also increase the cost of audits to society, by causing CPA firms to increase the evidence accumulated. 5-3Business failure is the risk that a business will fail financially and, as a result, will be unable to pay its financial obligations. Audit risk is the risk that the auditor will conclude that the financial statements are fairly stated and an unqualified opinion can therefore be issued when, in fact, they are materially misstated. When there has been a business failure, but not an audit failure, it is common for statement users to claim there was an audit failure, even if the most recently issued audited financial statements were fairly stated. Many auditors evaluate the potential for business failure in an engagement in determining the appropriate audit risk. 5-4The prudent person concept states that a person is responsible for conducting a job in good faith and with integrity, but is not infallible. Therefore, the auditor is expected to conduct an audit using due care, but does not claim to be a guarantor or insurer of financial statements. 5-2 5-5The difference between fraud and constructive fraud is that in fraud the wrongdoer intends to deceive another party whereas in constructive fraud there is a lack of intent to deceive or defraud. Constructive fraud is highly negligent performance. 5-6Many CPA firms willingly settle lawsuits out of court in an attempt to minimize legal costs and avoid adverse publicity. This has a negative effect on the profession when a CPA firm agrees to settlements even though it believes that the firm is not liable to the plaintiffs. This encourages others to sue CPA firms where they probably would not to such an extent if the firms had the reputation...
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- Spring '10