Corporate Governance for In House Legal Counsel
Julie Thompson-James, Vice President, Senior Legal Counsel, Corporate Secretary, The Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica Limited, Jamaica
In recent times, it has become commonplace for in house Counsel (“General Counsel”) to assume additional responsibilities within a Company or Group of Companies such as the Corporate Secretary and/or Chief Compliance Officer. The reasons for this approach are very clear. Businesses are now operating in an increasingly regulated environment.
The role of the corporate secretary (or company secretary) has evolved in the 21st century beyond its formative highly administrative role, to assume a heightened focus on corporate governance. Compliance, as a major risk area of any organization, now has greater prominence and therefore the heightened focus. Regulatory compliance requires knowledge of the legal and regulatory framework and ensuring that businesses operate within that framework. Anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing is even more important than before requiring greater understanding of the laws as they evolve and implementation of robust Anti Money Laundering policies. This is the environment in which a General Counsel operates and a legal background is often times leveraged in each of these three distinct areas.
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