Disclosure level and compliance with IAS 37: is there any residual legal tradition effect among companies cross-listed in the U.S.?
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This study analyses firms' compliance with disclosure requirements of the International Accounting Standard 37 (IAS 37 - provisions, contingent liabilities and contingent assets), through a thorough examination of the 20-F Reports of 91 foreign companies for the fiscal year of 2016. These companies have in common that they are foreign firms cross-listed in the U.S. stock exchanges NASDAQ or NYSE, they report under IFRS both locally and in the U.S., and they are from 14 countries that obligate the adoption of IFRS for locally traded companies. I measured disclosure compliance levels for each required item and overall, by calculating two indexes, one stricter and another more tolerant in treating omissions on the non-applicability of an item to the company. My hypothesis confronts the assertions that the legal tradition to which a company is submitted influences its disclosure level. An important finding is that the enforcement of the SEC regulations is what mostly explains the level of disclosure, rather than the legal tradition of the firm’s country of origin. I found that cross-listed companies under the same enforcement of the SEC, do not differ in their level of disclosure, regardless of the legal tradition of their country of origin. No statistically significant differences were found between the disclosure level for companies from countries with common law tradition, compared to countries with civil law roots. Additionally, the study concluded that the local financial markets development and the local regulation of the security exchanges are variables that significantly influence the level of disclosure.