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Discussant's Response to " 'Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree' Accountants' Legal Liability— A Historical Perspective" Thomas A. Gavin The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Paul has done an excellent job of developing the history of accountants' legal liability. The message of the paper is enhanced by his introduction of some of the cast of characters who have helped shape the development of the subject—from the likes of George May of Price Waterhouse to Philip Musica, alias Frank Donald Coster, of McKesson & Robbin's. My discussion of the content of Paul's paper will not address the factual settings which underlie the "landmark'' cases presented nor will it address the general description of the all too well known tightening of accountants' liability. Rather, my comments will be restricted to expanding some topics discussed by Paul and possibly taking issue with respect to a few. Whose Duty to Whom?—Some General Observations The author presents the expansion of the role and responsibilities of the public auditor as one resisted and fought aggressively by auditors. Further-more, he notes that "changes were frequently the result of litigation losses and/or government intervention.'' One might respond that the first of these observations is accurate but a realistic occurrance due in part to a rather young profession trying to find its way to maturity while at the same time attempting to avoid the risks that might abate the maturation process. The second comment about change resulting from litigation could apply to many disciplines. Practicing professionals do not allocate resources to develop procedures to prevent problems unless signifi-cant problems exist or critical problems are perceived as imminent. Some might criticize this rather sympathetic response by stating that the accounting profession has done too little too late. The Moss-Metcalf and Dingell commit-tees might be among those critics. Professionalism I believe the examination of the legal liability of accountants cannot be viewed as a single issue but must be couched in terms of the degree or extent to which we view accounting as a profession. The degree of professionalization of any occupation depends on how many of the following characteristics, and how much of each, it possesses: 24
Discussant's response to "'Under the spreading chestnut tree,' accountants' legal liability -- A historical perspective"
Gavin, Thomas A.
Srivastava, Rajendra P., ed.
Ford, N. Allen, ed.
Accounting -- Law and legislation -- History
Auditing Symposium VIII: Proceedings of the 1986 Touche Ross/University of Kansas Symposium on Auditing Problems, pp. 024-030
|Source||Published by: University of Kansas, School of Business|
|Rights||Contents have not been copyrighted|
|Format||PDF page image with corrected OCR scanned at 400 dpi|
|Collection||Deloitte Digital Collection|
|Digital Publisher||University of Mississippi Library. Accounting Collection|