find the latest legal job
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
Property Lawyer
Category: Property Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· 12 Month Contract · Diverse Work
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
Infrastructure Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Perth WA
· We'd be particularly interested to hear from you if you were a lawyer who knows your way around the infrastructure and energy sectors.
View details
Lawyer demands reform in the face of class actions

Lawyer demands reform in the face of class actions

Freehills’ own Bob Baxt has launched a timely book on the increasingly complex role of the company director, just as those same themes are raised in the James Hardie judgement.

Freehills’ own Bob Baxt has launched a timely book on the increasingly complex role of the company director, just as those same themes are raised in the James Hardie judgement.

In the updated version of his book, Duties and Responsibilities of Directors and Officers, Baxt sets out to show how the role of a company director is becoming increasingly complex as new laws are introduced, class actions are on the rise and the activity of regulators increases.

Professor Baxt says the book deals with legal minefields for directors, but argues governments need to focus on real reform in this area.

“Continuing to draft strict liability provisions into legislation or provisions which reverse the onus of proof against directors is fundamentally obnoxious.”

“On top of this, the growth of class actions and results in cases where shareholders/ members have been able to sue directors and companies is another cause for concern,” he said.

“The rise in class actions has been assisted by recent court decisions and the lack of appropriate regulation for professional litigation funders. This results in increased costs to the public by way of higher consumer prices, a reduction in shareholder value and decreased tax revenue as profits decline,” said Professor Baxt.

“Recent comments by ASIC that shareholder class actions are an appropriate market driven response are, in my view, to be tempered by the need to ensure that we have proper regulation in this area. Without that such actions can become a very unruly horse.”

Professor Baxt said that recent court cases such as CentroJames Hardie and Fortescue have made it difficult for directors to navigate their role without fear of being held personally liable.

“There seems to be a never-ending raft of legislation imposing personal liability on directors. With approximately 700 State and Territory laws making directors liable, it is little wonder that organisations across the country are being hampered by less than optimal decision making,” said Professor Baxt.

At the book’s launch late last week, chief executive officer and managing director of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, John Colvin, said it provides directors and officers with critical guidance at a time when director’s actions are under increasing scrutiny and reform is the subject of debate.

“In our most recent Director Sentiment Index survey, most directors said that current governance regulations under the Corporations Act are onerous,” said Colvin.

“Continuous piecemeal changes to legislation such as the Corporations Act can lead to errors and the need for ongoing amendments. It is difficult for directors, corporations and others to stay up-to-date.”

Colvin recommended every director read the book.

 

The book, first published in 1982, is a foundation resource for legal students, academics and practicing directors. It is also a critical element of Company Directors’ portfolio of resources designed to ensure directors’ knowledge is current.

 

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Lawyer demands reform in the face of class actions
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Violence
Nov 17 2017
It's time for politicians to commit to eradicating domestic violence
The national shame of domestic violence cannot be left unaddressed, writes Christine Smyth. ...
Nov 16 2017
From lawyer in law firm to senior governance professional
Promoted by Governance Institute of Australia As a law graduate, Kate Griffiths never imagined...
marriage equality
Nov 16 2017
Legislation the next hurdle for marriage equality
Lawyers have underscored the importance of ensuring same-sex marriage legislation does not limit ant...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...