Now is the time of year when securities lawyers thoughts turn to Form 10-K compliance. In reviewing recently filed Form 10-Ks, I have noted a lack of consistency in the captions used for Part III, Item 14 and Part IV, Item 15. Some registrants caption the former as "Principal Accounting Fees and Services" while others use "Principal Accountant Fees and Services". As to the latter, some use "Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules" while others "Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules".
Who is correct? The Form 10-K currently posted on the SEC's website uses "Principal Accountant Fees and Services" and "Exhibit and Financial Statement Schedules". The lack of the "s" in "Exhibit" is puzzling to me as it must be to those who add an "s" to their filings.
The Egg and Eye
My frustration with these irregularities of usage reminds me of William Caxton's egg story, which appeared as a prologue to his 1490 translation of a French translation Guillame de Roy’s Le livre des Eneydes which was itself a translation of Virgil's Aeneid. The story tells of a man from the North of England who is attempting to buy eggs from a Southern Englishwoman. Because of the Viking invasion and rule of the North (the Danelaw), the Northerner used the Old Norse word for eggs, egges, while the Southerner used the Anglo-Saxon word for eggs, eyren (the plural form of eye). The woman incongruously responds by saying that she does not speak French. This leads to Caxton's famous lament about the vagaries of usage:
"What sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte, egges or eyren, certaynly it is harde to playse every man."