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Managing risk will demand legal expertise in 2009, says CEP

Warwick Ashford

Managing risk to protect brand, revenue and reputation in the economic downturn is increasingly a legal challenge, says the Corporate Executive Programme (CEP).

Organisations are entering a much higher number of legal contracts as they seek to outsource as much as possible to reduce cost, said CEP chair Claudia Natanson.

Smaller outsourcers are also likely to appear far more in the mix than before as they compete with larger organisations by offering more attractive deals.

The CEP expects the economic downturn to spark much debate around risk and what new outsourcing contracts should look like to deal with these challenges.

For this reason, the CEP's Global Risk Summit in London in May is to focus on the legal aspects of risk.

"Last year we looked at human resources regarding the risk and benefits of organisations using social networking sites, but this year is the turn of the legal function," said Natanson.

One of the biggest challenges facing organisations is getting the outsourcing contracts right to ensure the liability of both sides is clear and that the level of risk is acceptable, she said.

This is particularly true when dealing with smaller outsourcing suppliers that may not be able to provide the same service level guarantees.

"Organisations may have to accept a level of risk they would not normally have felt comfortable with," said Natanson.

Organisations will have to re-prioritise risk and the procurement lawyers are likely to be called upon to guide discussions on how contracts should be structured, she said.

The CEP, which is made up of C-level executives and takes a cross-functional view of risk, operates under the auspices of the worldwide Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST).


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