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Multinational firms suffering from 'compliance fatigue'

Posted by: Laurence Simons 16/06/14

In-house lawyers and businesses around the globe are beginning to suffer from 'compliance fatigue' thanks to the sprawling regulatory apparatus that has emerged over the last decade, a new report has suggested.

Professional services provider EY polled 2,700 executives across 59 countries to produce this research.

With record fines issued to many firms in recent years, the role of general counsel has become ever more pronounced as businesses attempt to keep their heads down and avoid the various tripwires set up for them by risk-conscious regulators.

For UK businesses, cybercrime is one of the biggest issue - 74 per cent of respondents felt this area poses a high risk to their organisation compared to 49 per cent globally.

This is good news for British in-house lawyers, who can feel somewhat reassured that their organisations are on the right path when it comes to avoiding reputation-damaging cyber scandals.

John Smart, head of EY's UK Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services, said the rest of the world is now playing catch-up on the UK when it comes to online crime.

Awareness is only one part of the issue, however.

"When a data breach does occur, many companies fail to investigate how and why an attack has taken place, which can leave networks compromised and exposed as the full extent of the breach is never uncovered," added Mr Smart.

Cybercrime was not the only issues addressed by the EY report, which revealed that 46 per cent of British respondents still thought offering complementary presents in exchange for business links is acceptable behaviour.

"If gifts or entertainment are being offered as a quid pro quo or with a direct link to retaining business they are probably bribes. With the summer events season approaching it is more important than ever for companies to be extra vigilant," added Mr Smart.

General counsel need to keep on top of all these compliance issues if they are to justify their place at the top table, with a host of benefits available for those who can do so.