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At the interface of the electronic frontier and the law: The international legal environment for systems reliability assurance services

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Carl J. Pacini

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In response to concerns about unreliable information systems, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (A/CPA) and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) have launched a new assurance service called SysTrust. The objective of a SysTrust engagement is for the practitioner to issue an attestation/assurance report on system(s) reliability. The development and deployment of the CPAICA SysTrust service, however, is done in a high litigation risk environment, especially in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Our purpose is to evaluate the legal environment in these five nations so CAs and CPAs can comprehend the issues involving potential litigation prior to initiating SysTrust engagements. Presently, no legal case in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom has yet been reported which addresses directly accountant liability to third parties for negligent information system assurance services. An analysis of related legal cases sheds light on the potential liability of SysTrust providers. However, the current international legal environment is characterized by a high level of uncertainty. Several risk management strategies, including risk exposure analysis, client engagement evaluation, engagement letters, loss-limit clauses, and alternative dispute resolution, are presented that SysTrust providers may implement to minimize litigation risk.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available only through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in Journal of International Accounting Auditing & Taxation, 9(2), 185-218. Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.





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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.