As the international centre of finance, understandably there is considerable business regulation in the United Kingdom. Many sectors across the business world are policed by different bodies. These agencies include the Financial Conduct Authority, Environment Agency, Care Quality Commission, HMRC, Heath and Safety Executive to name a few. Important compliance issues for all businesses, large and small, include the Data Protection Act 1998. The UK Corporate Governance Code is issued by the Financial Reporting Council and it sets out standards of good practice in relation to board leadership and effectiveness, remuneration, accountability and relations with shareholders. All companies with a Premium Listing of equity shares in the UK are required under the Listing Rules to report on how they have applied the Combined Code in their annual report and accounts.
In addition to regulation, the Bribery Act 2010 has wide-ranging implications in the business world and could expose you or your business to a criminal investigation of bribery and/or corruption if you do not manage your affairs carefully. Companies and individuals can now be found guilty of offences under the Act and be sentenced to pay significant fines and/or serve terms of imprisonment up to 10 years. The impact is massive.
The Act firmly places the responsibility on organisations to ensure that their anti-corruption procedures will protect them from potential criminal liability and unlimited fines. Companies will not only be responsible for the activities of their employees, but also of their agents and affiliates. This will require enhanced due diligence and systems and controls of those working with you. Protecting yourself and your company demands a robust approach to corporate governance to address the new changes to the law. Areas of particular concern include corporate hospitality, facilitation and payments and commissions.
I have in depth expertise and experience of providing high quality, and where necessary, discrete, legal support to businesses, directors and shareholders on issues of corporate governance and regulation. Handling these matters with sensitivity and care is of paramount importance as any bad publicity can affect the future of the business or the individuals concerned. Most issues can usually be resolved with early involvement and skillful negotiation with the regulator before matters are taken any further.