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ICAI Gains Full Power to Regulate Big Four Audit Firms

Last updated: 06 July 2024


Introduction

In a landmark decision, the Delhi High Court has reaffirmed the regulatory powers of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) over affiliates of the Big Four firms operating in India. The court's ruling, issued on July 3, not only upheld ICAI's jurisdiction but also lifted the stay on disciplinary actions against these entities, marking a significant shift in the legal landscape governing global auditing giants in the country.

The legal dispute, rooted in the interpretation of the Chartered Accountants (CA) Rules 2007 and the CA Act, escalated earlier this year when ICAI's disciplinary committee imposed penalties on several affiliates and former partners. This move sparked writ petitions from nine partners, challenging ICAI's regulatory oversight over their operations under Indian law.

ICAI Gains Full Power to Regulate Big Four Audit Firms

Initially granting a stay on disciplinary measures, the Delhi High Court reconsidered its stance in the recent ruling, deeming the arguments against ICAI's jurisdiction as unsustainable. This decision clears the path for ICAI to resume its regulatory measures and enforce compliance with Indian accounting standards among these global entities.

Furthermore, the court has directed ICAI to formulate specific operational guidelines for Big Four affiliates, emphasizing transparency in licensing agreements and brand usage within Indian markets. This directive aims to harmonize global best practices with local regulatory frameworks, ensuring accountability and fair competition in the auditing sector.

Reacting to the court's verdict, ICAI President Ranjeet Kumar Agarwal announced the imminent release of comprehensive global networking guidelines. These guidelines, developed in consultation with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, signify a proactive approach to align international auditing practices with India's evolving legal landscape.

Conclusion

The Delhi High Court's decision sets a precedent for stricter regulatory oversight of global auditing giants in India, underscoring the importance of adherence to local laws in maintaining fair market practices. As ICAI prepares to implement new guidelines, stakeholders anticipate enhanced clarity and compliance within the financial sector, reflecting ongoing efforts to bolster transparency and accountability.

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