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Evading Enron: Taking Principles Too Seriously In Accounting Regulation

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The UK's regulators and accounting profession are at one in their assessment of why the UK avoided its Enron: the UK's approach to accounting regulation is principles-based in contrast to the rules-based approach taken in the United States. According to this position, the UK has its principles-based regulatory technique to thank for keeping the integrity of its markets intact during the infectious greed of the 1990s. This article is an inquiry into the effect and validity of this claim. It investigates the effect that this claim has had upon structuring the UK's post-Enron regulatory process and provides a close analysis of UK and US accounting regulation to determine whether the UK's regulation is in fact distinctively principles-based. It concludes that the structuring effect of the claim was considerable, diverting the reform process away from some of the US's most important Enron lessons. This is of particular concern as the article also concludes that the claim is without foundation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Law, University of Warwick.

Publication date: 2005-07-01

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