Legal development

Risk insights through the lens of a general counsel UK edition 22 23

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    In little more than two years, the UK economy, public finances, and companies have felt the consequences of a global health crisis caused by Covid-19, a global security crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and a global energy crisis brought about by both. In a little over a decade, we have also felt the economic and fiscal consequences of a global financial crisis and the uncertainty created by the UK’s decision to leave the EU and the negotiations that followed.

    In the decades ahead, governments in the UK and around the world face perhaps the still greater economic and social challenges of addressing climate change, dealing with the costs of ageing, and managing all of these pressures and risks against a backdrop of potentially weaker productivity growth, higher levels of public debt, and elevated interest rates.

    It is hard to escape the conclusion that the world is becoming a riskier place. It is against this backdrop that the role of an executive or senior manager within a company has become much more about effectively managing current risk and foreseeing future risk within the context of an increasingly regulated landscape.

    The role of General Counsel in particular has always been about risk management, but likely more so now than ever. General Counsels have often been a moral, ethical, and regulatory compass for their organisations as well as the chief advisors on moderating reputational issues and addressing systemic risks.

    Traditionally, the role of in-house legal counsel is to understand the pressure points, strategy and objectives of the business and effectively communicate the risks and legal issues involved in any decision to management. This enables management to make informed strategic choices within an acceptable legal risk profile. While this position still holds true, the role of legal counsel is very clearly not limited to managing the legal risk associated with the businesses that they work within but spans across the entire organisations operations and its internal and external footprint.

    Given the dynamic and wide-ranging nature of risk that companies now face which include internal and external stresses, the role of General Counsel is arguably more critical than ever to help an organisation navigate the storm and remain unscathed. Equally the relationship between the General Counsel and other C-suite executives is also crucial in managing risk both effectively and proactively, both for the organisation and for each individuals personal accountability.

    The lawyers that participated in our survey state that they face risks in the following areas and would like to gather insights from other companies on:

    • Cyber risk
    • Engagement with the regulator(s) and changing regulations
    • GDPR, privacy and data management risk
    • Governance and accountability
    • Financial crime
    • Operational risk and financial risk
    • Conduct risk
    • Crypto evolution
    • ESG

    The report provides a unique and valuable perspective for all C-suite and senior executives on current and emerging areas of risk and some insights on how to manage personal accountability in this volatile risk environment.

    Download the report

    The information provided is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all developments in the law and practice, or to cover all aspects of those referred to.
    Readers should take legal advice before applying it to specific issues or transactions.

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