Should We Trust the Gatekeepers?
Auditors’ and Lawyers’ Liability for Clients’ Misconduct
In the aftermath of the corporate scandals that reached headlines worldwide in the first years of this decade (Enron, Worldcom, Parmalat) investors, and the general public, reacted with surprise at first, and then with indignation. Politicians, regulators, and lawmakers felt the pressure to increase and strengthen the range of measures to combat corporate misconduct and fraud. Probably the most ambitious and extensive legislative reaction to the problem, and the best-known, at any rate, has been the American Sarbanes-Oxley Act 2002. Some of the proposed or adopted policies to check corporate behavior for the benefit of investors and the public at large deal with general corporate governance issues. In the paper we try to model some of the issues raised by the current system of liability for clients’ misconduct imposed upon auditors and lawyers as gate-keeping third-party allies of the public enforcement authorities.