Sufficient reliable evidence: avoiding the disappointing pudding

The disappointing pudding

I recently took my youngest daughter to dinner at a well-known restaurant chain which serves oriental food whilst you sit on benches trying to avoid the elbows of strangers.   She particularly enjoys their chicken, cat stew* curry.  Although I have always thought that a strange and distasteful combination I have found the food there to be very good.

Having navigated the embarrassment of me getting up from my bench and accidentally kicking one of the strangers I was sandwiched between, we decided to go for a pudding. Helpfully, on the paper table cloth, there was a small picture of a series of six enticing looking oriental ice cream balls.

I plumped.

When the pudding arrived it was tiny. The picture was to scale.  Rather than the six hefty balls of satisfying ice cream I expected, I was faced with six marble sized portions which were despatched in very short order.  Hugely disappointing.  The evidence on which I reached my opinion on which pudding to order was misleading, and by the time I had relied on it, it was too late.  (The only mitigating factor was the mirth all of this caused my beloved daughter.)

Editor’s note: * “katsu”

Providing quantum expert support

When it comes to providing quantum expert support to clients involved in a construction dispute I am more informed.

As a chartered accountant, trained in a Big 4 accounting practice, I am very experienced at obtaining sufficient and reliable evidence to support my opinions.

It is not a subject I often bring up over dinner, particularly with my daughter, but the International Standard on Auditing (500): Audit Evidence sets out some useful rules such as:

  • The need to gather sufficient appropriate audit evidence
  • The sources of audit evidence
  • How to obtain evidence
  • The relevance and reliability of different types of evidence

Professional scepticism

As well as the rules I, along with others of my profession, apply an approach known as, “professional scepticism”. Professional scepticism is an attitude that includes a questioning mind, being alert to conditions which may indicate possible misstatement due to error or fraud, and a critical assessment of audit evidence.  This implies a balanced and critical view and not one which tries to create issues based on flimsy evidence.

Significant experience

Lastly, when looking at the numbers associated with a particular case, I and my colleagues bring many years of experience, and as with most experienced accountants, I can often spot a number which is significant or misleading.

My conclusion is therefore to rely on the evidence of an experienced chartered accountant as a quantum expert in a construction case because no one wants a disappointing pudding