2007 - Emile Woolf writes

Demise of the Independent Insurance Company – Lessons galore

The criminal findings against former directors of the Independent Insurance Company were of particular interest to me: a large slice of my firm’s primary layer of professional indemnity insurance was carried by the Independent at the time of its collapse in mid-2001 and had to be replaced in a hurry. Secondly, a small team from […]

Read More…

Bank lending scandal: sorting fact from fiction

The lending spree is over.  It will be a while before credit and risk are re-acquainted.  It is symptomatic of the latest squeeze that virtually every rule of sound banking was ignored. If, in the 1990s, conventional risk assessment dictated that mortgages should not exceed either 90 per cent of the property’s value or a […]

Read More…

Over-taxed & over-regulated – that’s the reality, whatever they say

Few would disagree that UK business is both overtaxed and over-regulated.  Those at the sharp end know this, despite all the efforts of official statisticians and bureaucrats to tell us otherwise. The Treasury would have it that Britain is becoming more competitive and overtaking rival economies, whereas the CBI argues that higher taxes and obsessive […]

Read More…

Prescriptive accounts? I’d rather they were understandable

Interpretation of those magic words “true and fair” has long been the subject of philosophical debate.  International Accounting Standard (IAS) 1 requires companies merely to present their accounts “fairly”, which has always been the US formulation.  The IAS regime does, however, insist that any international standard which the EC is proposing to adopt must not be […]

Read More…

Qualified Audit Reports: Don’t show them to the FRRP

In June the Financial Reporting Review Panel (“FRRP”) published a Consultation Paper called “Proposal to encourage voluntary disclosure of qualified audit reports”.  The text makes it clear, however, that it is the auditor rather than the company that is being “encouraged” to make voluntary disclosure – promptly, ahead of public filings, directly to the FRRP.  […]

Read More…

The consequences of mindless regulation are always heartless

The Institute recently announced its decision to open its disciplinary and appeals hearings to the public and press.  It is said that this accords with the practice of other professional bodies.  Does this mean it is the right decision? I question whether the interests of the member or firm subject to the complaint were adequately […]

Read More…

Borrowers must face the reality of their choices

Since gaining its independence from the Treasury 10 years ago the Bank of England’s pledge to control inflation as its overriding priority has, until now, been visibly honoured and we have all benefited. Unlike the Treasury, however, the Bank’s sole weapon in fulfilling its mission is its autonomy over setting interest rates, and the present […]

Read More…

Desperate measures: if it moves, tax it

The purpose of taxation is to pay for the necessary expenditure of government.  Adam Smith spelt out the basics 200 years ago:  the manner in which taxes are raised and spent must be transparent, visible for all to see.   The journey from first principles to contemporary reality leads to a fiscal statute book of […]

Read More…

The European Commission must be called to account

The subject of Europe polarises any otherwise rational debate.  Obsessional prejudice, whether pro or con, induces deafness and drives out reason.   More inflammatory even than party politics (where spin and expediency have blunted the ideals), passions over Europe (the Union, not the continent) have taken on the trappings of a belief system, susceptible to […]

Read More…

Spicing up the Audit Report will end in tears

A study of the evolution of the form and content of UK audit reports over, say, the past 50 years would make nostalgic but intriguing reading because it would at the same time reflect changing public and investor expectations of the audit function.   Under the Companies Act 1948 audit reports were required, positively, to […]

Read More…