Australia is in the midst of an “age of inquiries”, which will continue to shine a spotlight on corporate culture and behaviour, argues one senior legal counsel.
Speaking recently on The Corporate Counsel Show, Immediation COO, general counsel and director Claire Bibby said corporate governance will continue to be a prominent issue in 2020, as it was last year, with royal commissions of all stripes still being floated by political leaders and consequences from the Hayne inquiry still unfolding.
“We seem to be in the age of inquiries these days. Very early on in the bushfire crisis, there was some dialogue about whether there would be a royal commission. I must admit, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear that, and I think a number of general counsel and in-house lawyers [felt the same],” she mused.
“[Counsel who] experienced the banking royal commission went through a huge amount of work and had a big learning curve, and I suspect that learning curve may hold them in good stead for what’s to come around the corner, because I suspect it hasn’t finished. I think there’s going to be certainly an uptick in professional negligence claims coming out of the Hayne royal commission and there may be further royal commissions as well.
“GCs and in-house lawyers are going to be in the middle of that, whether they’re advising or whether they’re potentially even being exposed.”
Consumer rights in particular could see an increase in claims, Ms Bibby continued.
“We certainly could see some more action in the professional services’ realm, and I think anywhere where consumers have exposure, because consumers are becoming much more aware of their rights. An area where I do think there will be some further action is in the health space, because people are Googling a lot and going to their doctors with opinions.”
“I think doctors and maybe some more of the professional services will be exposed,” she noted, surmising that such elevated awareness of consumer rights will mean corporate entities have to remain on their guard.
In the same episode, Ms Bibby said that GCs have to recognise that the undertaking of pro bono work isn’t just an individual journey, it is also a company one.
To listen to the full conversation with Claire Bibby, click below: