The confidential gathering, which formed part of the consultation process on auditor liability, took place last week and saw instrumental figures from the accountancy and investment professions put the cases for and against a cap.
It had been hoped that such a forum would help to convince some investors of the need to include legislation for a cap in the companies bill, currently making its way through parliament, but it seems investors were unmoved by the plight of auditors.
‘The meeting went pretty much as expected,’ said one investor representative at the meeting. ‘There was no meeting of minds on the subject.’
Others felt that the accountancy profession needed to present a unified and convincing argument.
‘They could then begin to look at the increasingly more intensive needs of investors in matters of financial reporting as a commercially positive factor rather than a negative one,’ said another investor at the meeting.
Despite the apparent deadlock, ex-ICAEW president Peter Wyman, who has been lobbying for a cap, is still quietly confident that a repeal of section 310 of the Companies Act will be included in the bill, giving it a ‘better than evens’ chance. He also claimed to have the support of the CBI, the IoD, influential business figures and ‘quite a lot of investors’.
The consultation period closes on 12 March.
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