Andy Halford, the CFO of mobile phone giant
has poured cold water on the idea of a liability cap with auditors
as the UK’s biggest firms lobby government to get protection from lawsuits.
Halford is the first FD of a leading UK company to speak out on the issue. He
told Accountancy Age : ‘I think the issue is this: we understand why
liability caps should be something that the accounting firms would want to have,
but equally, as stewards of our shareholders, we’ve got to be very comfortable
‘Frankly, to shave a small amount off an audit fee but to put a cap, which
otherwise would not exist, on the claims that could be made is an interesting
balance, so I don’t know how much traction that will actually get.
’I understand the concept, but I think, if you look at it from the other
side, then the balance of benefit and reward from the shareholder point of view
is not overwhelmingly clear.’
Halford said a cap could create a climate of uncertainty for shareholders.
‘The difficulty is how do you quantify a quantifiable reduction in an audit fee
with an unquantifiable difference between cap and unlimited? I mean it’s not the
easiest of things to do.’
Deloitte declined to comment.
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