A MAJOR pharmaceutical company’s directors are embroiled in a sex scandal, huge dubious payouts and a dysfunctional board, while one of its ‘erectile assistance’ products is rumoured to have killed a few customers.
This at least was the hypothetical scenario that was posed at last week’s Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA) in-house symposium, aimed at preparing in-house lawyers for a complete corporate meltdown.
Moderated by the Andrew Rogers QC and composed of a panel of corporate heavyweights, the hypothetical sought to pose the worst case scenario in the name of in-house forward planning.
“Preparation is nine-tenths of achievement,” Rogers said, warning the audience to prepare for any potential business calamity with a degree of anticipation.
Rogers, being the previous chief judge of the commercial division of the Supreme Court of NSW, was well placed to visit on the panel the most extreme failures in management a general counsel could face in dealing with a volatile board of directors.
The panel was made up of Bill Brown (divisional general manager, legal and regulatory for Tabcorp Australia); Stuart Thomas (chief operating officer of the Macquarie Radio Network); John Sweeney (leader of the Edmund Rice Centre’s business ethics initiative); Bill Beerworth (managing director of Beerworth & Partners); Margaret Cole (global general counsel for Babcock & Brown); and Nick Allton (division director of the legal risk management group of Macquarie Bank Limited).