A recent development in the assurance services profession is the emergence of engagements on a broad range of subject matter that are designed to provide a moderate level of assurance. A significant issue for the profession is how to convey to users the limited extent of the assurance provided by such engagements. This study identifies four main categories of moderate assurance reporting forms (opinion on procedures, negative assurance, positive assurance, positive assurance with a limitations paragraph) being used in practice worldwide for providing assurance on environmental and sustainability reports. It examines whether these four reporting forms convey a lower level of assurance than that provided by a traditional high assurance report, and whether these reporting formats lead to significantly different levels of assurance perceived by a group of 792 shareholders. The findings indicate that users perceive that these moderate assurance reporting formats generally provide a lower level of assurance than that provided by a high assurance report. However, one significant difference was found between the four types of moderate assurance reports, with the opinion on procedures format providing higher assurance than the positive assurance with a limitations paragraph format. Implications for policy makers in their deliberations on assurance report wording in relation to moderate assurance engagements are considered.

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