Relationship with auditors

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PricewaterhouseCoopers were appointed as auditors of the company on 8 February 1999, subsequently becoming PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in 2003.

During the year the audit committee has kept under review its policy on, and the independence and objectivity of, the external auditors. The committee examines the processes for and the nature and quantum of non-audit projects awarded to the auditors for compliance with the committee’s policies. The committee is satisfied that the auditors have established internal policies and procedures to ensure services are not provided to the company (or related companies) that would impair auditor independence. As a reassurance, the auditors are required to provide summary details highlighting relationships which the auditors consider might have a bearing on their independence and objectivity. The auditors are also required to provide written confirmation of independence and an assurance that all requirements for partner rotation have been met. The audit committee is satisfied that, for the period under review, the auditors have remained independent and objective in their assessment of the company’s finances.

The committee is also satisfied that internal company policies aimed at ensuring auditor independence have been complied with during the period under review. Furthermore the committee has approved the formalisation and extension of these policies to ensure that auditor independence is maintained while, at the same time, ensuring that the company benefits from the cumulative knowledge and experience of the principal auditor. In support of this, the audit committee is committed to managing the nature and amount of non-audit services provided by the auditor to the company. This policy became effective on 1 April 2004. The committee is considering a formal system for the review of auditor effectiveness in conjunction with the assessment of independence. Compliance worldwide will be monitored by means of regular reports to the audit committee. All non-audit services are subject to appropriate management oversight and, where the size of assignment warrants, a formal tender process is followed.

Please refer to note 4 to the financial statements where a full breakdown of non-audit services provided to the company by the auditors for the year under review can be found.

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