Auditors’ perceptions of responsibilities to detect and report client illegal acts in Canada and the UK : a comparative experiment

Ian A. M. FRASER, Zhenpin, Kenny LIN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)


This paper investigates the theme of the role and influence of auditing standards on auditing practice by means of a comparative case study focused on two different standard setting regimes. Specifically, the Canadian and UK standards concerned with the detection and reporting of client illegal acts are considered. Fifteen short vignettes are developed each describing an illegal act and reflecting the distinctive factors highlighted by the respective auditing standards. We find that the regulation of the auditing profession through the mode of auditing standards does have an identifiable impact on auditor behavior. The impact of standards on auditors’ perceptions of their responsibilities in the area of illegal acts is clearer for detection than it is for reporting. Additionally, auditors continue to perceive a clear distinction between fraud and other illegal acts and recognize a higher degree of responsibility for illegal acts involving fraud than for others. At the other end of the spectrum auditors do recognize some degree of responsibility in connection with illegalities that do not fall within the ambit of auditing standards. Auditors are also influenced in their judgments on the general nature of an illegal act rather than on how the illegality fits the framework adopted by the appropriate auditing standard.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-184
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Auditing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2004



  • illegal acts; auditing standards; auditor respon-sibilities; detection and reporting

Cite this