The board is satisfied that Ian Durant has recent and relevant financial experience, as the former finance director of Capital Shopping Centres Group PLC, formerly Liberty International plc.
The role of the audit committee is to review the results of the full year audit and the interim results in each case prior to their submission to the board. It is responsible for reviewing the company's internal financial control systems, advising the board on the appointment of external auditors, overseeing the relationship with the external auditors, reviewing the company's whistleblowing procedures and considering the need for a full internal audit function. It also reviews the group's risk management policies and procedures prior to submission to the board and receives detailed reports on the risk management functions within the business units.
The committee generally has three meetings each year. On each occasion the finance director and senior members of the finance function are invited to attend. The external auditors attend all of the meetings. In addition, the chairman of the committee regularly meets privately with the external audit partner to discuss matters relevant to the company.
The committee reviews the audit plan presented by the auditors before the start of each audit cycle and agrees the scope of the audit work. During the audit process the committee keeps under review the consistency of accounting policies on a year to year basis and across the group, and the methods used to account for significant or unusual transactions. The financial statements and interim results are reviewed in detail prior to their submission to the board. Following the audit the committee discusses issues arising from the audit, and any matters the auditors may wish to discuss.
The audit committee continuously monitors the relationship with the auditors and assesses their performance, cost-effectiveness, objectivity and independence. It also satisfies itself as to whether the auditors are independent of the company and that best practice is being observed.
The committee has a policy in relation to the use of Ernst & Young LLP, the company auditors, for non-audit work, with the primary policy being that non-audit work will be awarded to the firm which provides the best commercial solution for the work in question.
Download the audit committee terms of reference (PDF 43KB)