When Are Audit Firms Sued for Financial Reporting Failures and What Are the Lawsuit Outcomes?

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1370-1399
Journal / PublicationContemporary Accounting Research
Issue number3
Online published13 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


We examine how often audit firms are sued in a large sample of accounting lawsuits that allege financial reporting failures. We find an insignificant relation between the likelihood of auditor litigation and restatements but the likelihood of auditor litigation is strongly related to the types of alleged accounting deficiencies. We also find that the auditor’s type influences the probability of the auditor being sued and the size of the payouts from auditor and non-auditor defendants. In particular, the Big N firms are 7.1% less likely than non-Big N firms to be named as co-defendants and the auditor’s contribution to the plaintiff’s payout is significantly larger when a Big N firm is sued. Overall, our findings suggest that auditors are rarely blamed when there are allegations of financial reporting failures but the types of accounting deficiencies and the auditor’s type significantly influence the probability of the audit firm being sued and the outcomes of the lawsuits.

Research Area(s)

  • Accounting lawsuits, financial reporting failures, audit failures, lawsuit outcomes

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.