Recognition criteria

Meet the definitions Recognition criteria

5.6 Only items that meet the definition of an asset, a liability or equity are recognised in the statement of financial position. Similarly, only items that meet the definition of income or expenses are recognised in the statement(s) of financial performance. However, not all items that meet the definition of one of those elements are recognised.

Relevant information and Faithful representation Recognition criteria

5.7 Not recognising an item that meets the definition of one of the elements makes the statement of financial position and the statement(s) of financial performance less complete and can exclude useful information from financial statements. On the other hand, in some circumstances, recognising some items that meet the definition of one of the elements would not provide useful information. An asset or liability is recognised only if recognition of that asset or liability and of any resulting income, expenses or changes in equity provides users of financial statements with information that is useful, ie with:

  1. relevant information about the asset or liability and about any resulting income, expenses or changes in equity (see the sections Relevance and Low probability of an inflow or outflow of economic benefits 5.12–5.17); and
  2. a faithful representation of the asset or liability and of any resulting income, expenses or changes in equity (see Faithful representation and Other factors 5.18–5.25).

Constraints in recognition decisions Recognition criteria

5.8 Just as cost constrains other financial reporting decisions, it also constrains recognition decisions. There is a cost to recognising an asset or liability. Preparers of financial statements incur costs in obtaining a relevant measure of an asset or liability. Users of financial statements also incur costs in analysing and interpreting the information provided. An asset or liability is recognised if the benefits of the information provided to users of financial statements by recognition are likely to justify the costs of providing and using that information. In some cases, the costs of recognition may outweigh its benefits.

Cost outweight the benefits – Judgement needed

5.9 It is not possible to define precisely when recognition of an asset or liability will provide useful information to users of financial statements, at a cost that does not outweigh its benefits. What is useful to users depends on the item and the facts and circumstances. Consequently, judgement is required when deciding whether to recognise an item, and thus recognition requirements may need to vary between and within Standards.

No asset recognition leads to expense incurred over time

5.10 It is important when making decisions about recognition to consider the information that would be given if an asset or liability were not recognised. For example, if no asset is recognised when expenditure is incurred, an expense is recognised. Over time, recognising the expense may, in some cases, provide useful information, for example, information that enables users of financial statements to identify trends.

Contingent liabilities or commitments

5.11 Even if an item meeting the definition of an asset or liability is not recognised, an entity may need to provide information about that item in the notes. It is important to consider how to make such information sufficiently visible to compensate for the item’s absence from the structured summary provided by the statement of financial position and, if applicable, the statement(s) of financial performance.

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