Audit Fees and Auditor Independence : the Case of ISO 14001 Certification

Authors: Dogui, KouakouBoiral, Olivier; Heras-Saizarbitoria, Iñaki
Abstract: This study analyses the effects of audit fees and the clients' financial power on the independence of ISO 14001 auditors on the basis of a qualitative analysis of interviews with 36 professionals involved in the certification process. The results of the study demonstrate that most respondents support the legitimacy of the current remuneration system based on the user-pays principle, despite its business and financial ramifications, claiming that the independence of auditors is in fact ensured by the imposition of contractual duty, the observance of ethical codes, distancing the auditor from negotiations with the client, and dissociating the fee charged for the audit from the granting of the ISO 14001 certificate. However, the study demonstrates that auditors often adapt their behaviour to the client's economic context and the company size, which may call into question the prevailing opinion on the independence and impartiality of the certification process. This paper, on the one hand, discusses the manner in which auditors legitimize the current remuneration system and, on the other, describes the potential threat that it represents for their independence. The paper also highlights the similarities in this regard between the conflicts of interest in the field of environmental audits and in that of financial audits. Finally, the paper analyses a number of possible solutions to reduce the financial dependence of auditors on the audited companies.
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 21 April 2013
Open Access Date: 13 April 2017
Document version: AM
This document was published in: International Journal of Auditing, Vol. 18 (1), 14–26 (2014)
Alternative version: 10.1111/ijau.12008
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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