Be Practical, Not Scared of XBRL Limited Liability Expiration

June 5th, 2013

 

Let’s be practical (not afraid) about XBRL Limited Liability expiration

How the Fear Campaign makes it sound:

Some of our competitors are saying: “Once your company’s grace period ends, your XBRL files have the exact same material error liabilities as your traditional EDGAR HTML files….In the event of a misstatement or omission of a material fact in the XBRL files, the company along with its officers and directors can be held legally liable and be subjected to civil and criminal liability.”

The truth in this statement is “Yes, the documents are both deemed “filed” and liability is assumed for errors between the two formats of EDGAR and XBRL. They should match. If a company is attempting to defraud investors, and cannot prove it was an honest mistake (via Quality Assurance and a trail of some kind) then you are in trouble. More than likely, the SEC will issue a comment letter and ask why something is different or tagged in a specific way. The majority of the time, the worst case is an explanatory Correspondence filing or an amended filing explaining the error. While significant and potentially expensive mistakes, the reality is a world apart from “civil or criminal liability.”

Looking through the XBRL industry’s (service & software providers) websites, it is clear that a fear campaign has been the approved method for attracting business. RDG doesn’t believe in taking advantage of being the XBRL experts. Companies should be cautious, yes. However, is instilling fear really necessary? We believe that should be left to the ghosts. First, anyone reading this should note that the same fear campaign was instituted by these same companies when the original XBRL mandate was put into effect. While the task of preparing XBRL is a large one, it is not something to be afraid of. The sky will not fall when limited liability expires, but it is something to prepare for. Proper preparation of your company’s XBRL filing will minimize any impact of more detailed review of XBRL filings by the SEC.