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Above board

Looming changes to the corporate governance
regulations are causing a stir in Britain’s boardrooms, reports Eoin Connolly

9 May 2003

The Higgs report (the Report) on the role and effectiveness of non-executive directors and the Smith Report on audit committees, both published in January 2003, have caused some controversy in boardroom Britain. They propose amendments to the combined code on corporate governance (the Code) with which all listed companies are required to comply. Where companies do not comply, they must explain in their annual reports why they have not done so. A poll released by the Confederation of British Industry on 10 March, to which 60 of the FTSE 100 chairmen responded, showed 82 per cent of them believe the recommendation for a senior independent director on every board would undermine their position. Other commentators claim the proposals could be too prescriptive in practice, particularly for smaller companies. Unless a specific exception applies, the Report recommends they should be subject to the same standards of corporate governance as larger companies. However, the Government, particula...

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