Companies that have yet to start their programmes to comply with US Sarbanes-Oxley rules will fail to meet the deadline, consultancy group Impact Plus has warned.

Chris Barrett, principal consultant at Impact Plus, said: "Companies that start to convert their practices now will struggle to have their accounts in order before July 2006."

Some UK companies are only now advertising for compliance specialists in this area.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was introduced as a result of the Enron and WorldCom financial scandals, to regulate the reporting procedures of companies on the US stock exchange.

Although the Act has been operating since 2005, UK companies have been given a deadline of July 2006 to implement the rules.

Barrett also stressed that the UK market was expected to mirror the US failure rate of 8.5%.

PricewaterhouseCoopers released figures in April indicating that 220 of 2,500 US companies that filed for compliance had failed.

Of those, 40% exhibited a material weakness in their financial reporting.