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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School

Professor Brenda Hannigan Speaks at International Corporate Governance Conference

Published: 26 October 2023

On 26 and 27 October, Professor Hannigan attended an international conference held by the Facultad de Derecho, Universidad Complutense de Madrid on Corporate Governance, digitalisation and sustainability. In addition to speakers from Complutense, there were presentations by academics from other Spanish Universities, from the University of Trento, University of Luxembourg and LUISS University Rome.

Professor Hannigan's paper was entitled 'Managing sustainability risks - the implications for corporate governance'. It focused on three key governance stages in managing sustainability risks, namely, (1) Data Collection, (2) Embedding sustainability at board level, and (3) Accountability for sustainability reporting failures. While progress has been made on stage 1, Professor Hannigan considers that stages 2 and 3 have not been attained and that there are increasing signs of resistance by business and politicians to the sustainability agenda. Ultimately, she considers that if that resistance is to be overcome, it will have to be driven by investor demands.

Previously Professor Hannigan was a panellist at the European Company and Financial Law Review/ LSE Law School, ECFR SYMPOSIUM, held in London on 29 September 2023, which addressed the Sustainability Revolution in Corporate Law? Professor Hannigan's contribution focused on the role to be played by the audit committee in large enterprises in ensuring the integrity of sustainabilty reporting and the reflection of that reporting in the financial statements of the enterprise. She highlighted the importance of embedding these requirements in the UK Corporate Governance Code but doubted that there would be business support for such steps (as has subsequently proved to be the case). It is not a case of revolution, but evolution, with some backwards steps in recent weeks.

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