A Study of Independence:
"Auditors as a Necessary Evil"  


The Enron scandal in 2001 has once again focused attention on the debate of the extent to which auditors are conducting themselves in an independent manner. This study considers the degree to which auditors are acting in the ‘public interest’.

By using interviews and questionnaires societal perceptions of the profession were analysed. Those within the accountancy profession or in accountancy related work were also interviewed, bringing their opinions into the debate.

The concept of the profession as a business, and the extent to which this impacts on public confidence was considered. Two possible methods of improving independence, mandatory auditor rotation and the engagement partner signing the audit report personally were found to meet concerns over the appearance of independence, but not viable in practice.


Submitted: 24 April 2003
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK