Internal check has been defined by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales as the “checks on day-to-day transactions which operate continuously as part of the routine system whereby the work of one person is proved independently or is complementary to the work of another, the object being the prevention or early detection of errors or fraud”. Internal check is a part of the overall internal control system and operates as a built-in device as far as the staff organisation and job allocation aspects of the control system are concerned. A system of internal check in accounting implies organisation of system of book keeping and arrangement of staff duties in such a manner that no one person can completely carry through a transaction and record every aspect thereof. The essential
elements of a goods system of internal check are :
- Existence of checks on the day-to-day transaction.
- Which operate continuously as a part of the routine system.
- Whereby the work of each person is either proved independently or is made complementary to the work of another.
Its objective is to prevent and to bring about a speedy detection of frauds, wastes and errors. The system is based on the principle that when the performance of each individual in an organisation, normally and automatically, is checked by another, the chances of occurrence of errors, or their remaining undetected, are greatly reduced; also that, when two or more persons essentially must combine either to receive or to make a payment, there will be lesser possibility of a fraud being perpetrated by them. For instance, let us consider the simple case of a trading concern. It would have a cashier to receive cash who also shall issue receipts. There would be separate persons to write the cash book and ledgers, the stores accounts would be maintained by the store-keeper, and so on; there would be thus a large number of functionaries. In such an organisation, for putting through a transaction of sale, first of all a bill would be prepared and the same would be checked and authorised by the sales manager; afterwards the cashier would collect the sale price and finally the store-keeper would issue the goods, on being satisfied that each of the functionaries earlier to him had carried out his part of duties.
Such a division of responsibilities is made on the broad principle that persons having physical custody of assets should not have access to the books of account. Also apart from accounting control, periodically the physical and financial records of important assets should be reconciled. The scope of the statutory or professional audit is limited by the both the cost and the time factors. Therefore, it is increasingly being recognised that for an audit to be effective, especially when the size of a concern is large, the existence of a system of internal check is essential. The auditor can rely on it and, on that consideration, reduce the extent of detailed checking to be carried out by him but only after he has checked its effectiveness by the application of procedural tests. It must, however, be added that in the event of any mistake or fraud being discovered subsequently in the area of accounts which the statutory auditor has accepted to be correct, he may be guilty of negligence regardless of the fact that he had tested the internal check in operation before he has accepted it to be correct.