Compliance gets real

This time it is for real. The government last week published a bill on corporate governance that means there is nowhere for UK directors to hide.

Those who thought that Sarbanes-Oxley was merely a US invention with little direct relevance to their business will have to think again.

The proposed UK legislation is, of course, not a carbon copy of that from the US, but it will, when it becomes law, give investors the right to sue directors for negligence and breach of duty.

That means the quality of corporate decision making and the processes by which those decisions are made will be under ever greater scrutiny. Inevitably this means more work and more responsibility will fall directly on the IT function.

As ever, it is best to act, rather than react. And there is an added incentive for the IT director to get it right. If things go pear-shaped, it won't just be the chief executive and company secretary who are personally liable, the CIO may be in the firing line.

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This was first published in November 2005


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