The liability risks facing company directors and officers are intensifying in the wake of the economic crisis, with regulatory investigations and enquiries posing the greatest perceived threat to companies and their directors. This is according to a new report released today by international legal practice Allen & Overy and Willis Group Holdings, the global insurance broker.
The 2011 Directors’ Liability Survey surveyed more than 100 individuals, comprising directors, in-house lawyers, risk and compliance professionals, the majority of which are UK-based public and private companies, about their experience of claims, their current levels of protection and their concerns around risk going forward.
The study observes that the combination of heightened public and shareholder scrutiny, and a proliferation of powers amongst, and growing interaction between, regulators globally means the spotlight is on directors and officers like never before.
Other key findings of the survey also include:
Criminal and regulatory fines and penalties were the second biggest worry, identified by 64 per cent of respondents as a significant risk to their business.
Some 20 per cent of respondents had already experienced a claim or investigation involving a director of their company. This is perhaps surprising given the usual perception of the UK’s relatively benign litigation environment.
A third of those affected made a claim under their D&O insurance policy, and 35 per cent sought indemnity from their company, suggesting almost equal take-up of insurance and indemnity protection.
The majority of those surveyed said the biggest concern was potential exclusions in their existing D&O policy that could leave directors exposed should they come under investigation.
Commenting on the survey, Francis Kean, Executive Director of FINEX, the financial and executive risk division of Willis, said: “We wanted an accurate snapshot of the extent to which the actual or perceived liability risks faced by directors of large companies and whether those directors believe they are adequately protected by insurance and indemnification solutions. The survey contains some compelling findings from this perspective.”
Source: Allen & Overy
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