The objective of a reasonable assurance engagement is a reduction in assurance engagement risk to an acceptably low level in the circumstances of the engagement as the basis for a positive form of expression of the practitioner’s conclusion.
In a reasonable assurance engagement, the practitioner:
- Gathers sufficient appropriate evidence,
- Concludes that the subject matter conforms with the relevant criteria,
- Ensures that the level of risk is acceptably low and
- Expresses the conclusion in a positive form.
In this type of assurance engagement, the practitioner obtains sufficient appropriate evidence in order to reduce the assurance engagement risk to an acceptably low level. The practitioner doesn’t aim to say that everything is fully correct, but ascertains that it is materially true and fair. The auditor is unable to obtain absolute assurance because it is impossible to check 100% of the transactions.
Even if a 100% audit is carried out, it will not provide assurance that the financial statements are free from material misstatement, because of the inherent limitations of the audit. Therefore, the auditor cannot provide absolute assurance but can provide only reasonable assurance. A common example of a reasonable assurance engagement is an external audit.
A positive form of expression could be that “The financial statements show a true and fair view”, or “The appointment of the employee was fair”, or “Quality control procedures have been properly followed”