We address the question 'do governance enhancing audit committee (AC) characteristics mitigate the firm performance impact of significant-adverse-economic events such as the Global Financial Crisis (GFC)?' Our analysis reveals that smaller audit committees with more experience and financial expertise are more likely to be associated with positive firm performance in the market. We also find that longer serving chairs of audit committees negatively impacts accounting performance. However, accounting performance is positively impacted where ACs include blockholder representation, the chair of the board, whose members have more external directorships and whose chair has more years of managerial experience. We contribute to the growing body of research on the impact of audit committee governance attributes on performance during times of financial distress.