05 June 2014
The theme for the day was ‘Seeing the big picture’ and opening the conference, Council President Conor Sweeney set the tone by highlighting the challenges facing the Irish Region, recent developments in the past year, and most importantly, the opportunities presented by the forthcoming legislation contained in the Companies Bill 2012.
Helen Dixon, Registrar of Companies provided a general update on the timetable and progress of the Companies Bill. She also examined the conversion options, registered office agents, director home addresses, applications to the District Court to extend filing periods, the issue of authorised persons, PDF filing of financial statements and the introduction of ROS signatures, in her presentation.
Sheila Nordon, Executive Director, Irish Charities Tax Reform Group spoke on the issue of Charities and how they have had a challenging time of late. Recent negative publicity surrounding governance, culture and remuneration in the sector has significantly damaged integrity and reputation. Sheila reviewed the Charities Act 2009 and how it aims to increase transparency in the sector and what the new Charities Regulator will do to enhance public trust and confidence.
Peter Swabey, Policy and Research Director at the ICSA in London told delegates how the growing dissatisfaction around the increasing gap between top pay and company performance may, amongst other things, see the EU taking action to limit bankers’ bonuses. He referred to steps taken in the UK to give shareholders more rights on pay and how companies must now report their pay more clearly. Peter also summarised recent trends in remuneration, including details of votes taken at recent AGMs and what they might mean for companies in Ireland.
After a well earned coffee break, an eagarly awaited practical workshop on boardroom behaviour did not disappoint.
A corporate crisis movie from Dechert LLP entitled ‘A price worth paying?’ showed how important it is for boards to monitor all risks affecting their companies and to react in the right way when a crisis strikes. The movie focused on the difficult issues of executive compensation, the evaluation of risk around an acquisition in an emerging market, the depth of enquiry of an Audit Committee and the adequacy of the response to a serious whistleblower allegation. It reinforced the importance of setting the right “tone from the top” and the importance of directors asking all of the right questions.
During this interactive session, excellent contributions were made by our panel of experts (Simon Osborne, Chief Executive, ICSA, Declan McKeon, Director, Ryanair and Declan O’Sullivan, Partner, Dechert LLP), by examining the legal and ethical questions raised by the film. Delegates also contributed to make this a very worthwhile and innovative session as they analysed the subtle but often momentous choices faced by boards and the potentially disastrous consequences of poor decision-making and lack of due diligence.
After a brief summary, questions & answers and some closing remarks, delegates enjoyed a networking lunch.
View all the photos on our flickr account
Thank you to all who attended and made this a very successful conference, here’s to next year!