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Annual Law Conference

Annual Commercial and Corporate Law Conference – Directors’ Duties, Corporate Culture and Corporate Governance –Times are Changing

Recently,  Koffels Solicitors & Barristers, attended the Annual Commercial and Corporate Law Conference held at the Supreme Court of New South Wales.  Many industry stakeholders including legal practitioners, academics and researchers attended the conference to share and discuss their views on the growing social demand for directors’ public duties, and for companies to take proactive steps to manage issues relating to environmental and social responsibilities.

Traditionally, the company directors are required to act in the best interests of the company’s shareholders.  However, in recent years, we have seen increased public commentary on the requirement of additional duties to other stakeholders, for example; customers, employees, and the environment.

The regulators also acknowledged issues such as; the ASX Corporate Governance Council in its 4th edition of Governance Principles including a substantial redraft of core principles to address emerging issues around corporate values and cultures. There are suggestions that maximum Corporations Act penalties needed to be increased to be meaningful.

During the panel discussion, it was acknowledged that legal change cannot fall behind the public’s expectations of the conduct of company directors.  It was, however, strongly emphasised that if regulators take highly technical or pedantic interpretations of ambiguous law where the conduct is not regarded as sufficiently culpable, the increase in sanctions will only serve its purpose to punish the corporate bodies and its directors, without providing the requisite guidance in better managing the issues at hand.

As a law firm representing both domestic and international corporate clients, our participation in conferences such as this, is crucial to staying up to date with current corporate legal affairs as well as community discussion.  In response to the pressing issues of the role and responsibilities of Australian company directors,  Koffels are remaining connected to the ever changing dynamics of our corporate clients and their directors, both here and abroad.

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