Bulletin HASKINS & SELLS 55
Commissaires Des Comptes
PARIS, May 10, 1921.
From time to time we have received
communications from our practice offices
which would indicate that their understanding
of the functions of "Commissaires
des Comptes" of a company in
France is that they correspond to those of
auditors in America.
We believe that an explanation of their
functions might be of interest and possible
value to both you and our clients.
"Commissaires des Comptes" are appointed
by a company at the constitutive
general meeting, and thereafter at the
yearly general meetings.
They can be of French or foreign nationality
and may be shareholders in the
company or not.
Their duties are to make a report to the
shareholders for the yearly general meeting
on the financial situation of the company,
submitting a balance sheet, income,
and profit and loss account. They are
responsible to both shareholders and creditors
when their reports have not been
The above shows the functions and responsibility
of the "Commissaires des
Comptes" as provided by the law. However,
in reality the examinations made by
"Commissaires des Comptes," as a rule,
are perfunctory and do not include the
analyses of the accounts made in an ordinary
audit. It is our understanding that
Commissaires, unless it is especially provided
for, have the right to examine the
books only during the quarter prior to the
time fixed in the articles of association for
the yearly meeting.
While the intention of the law is good,
the actual examinations made by the
"Commissaires des Comptes" are, as
stated above, perfunctory and do not in
any way replace an audit. The fees paid
are very small and only one or two days
are required, as a rule, for the examination,
in which time you will realize that a great
amount of work cannot be accomplished.
It has been our experience to be requested
by French branches of American
companies to sign their balance sheets
after making examination such as is usually
made by "Commissaires des Comptes";
and they were surprised when we informed
them that we could not furnish a certificate