The importance of good governance

Ward Hadaway’s partner Damien Charlton talks about the importance of understanding legal rights and responsibilities and why he volunteers with the IoD North East (North).

This article was written for ‘Northern Insight’ magazine and published as part of their July edition.

· As Partner and Head of Commercial at Ward Hadaway LLP, tell us a bit about your role

I look after a team of lawyers and support staff that provide a diverse range of commercial law services. Part of the team specialises in public sector work – they are a fantastic group of lawyers with a national reputation, who deal with highly specialised work, particularly in relation to PFI contracts, and how to deal with the expiry of those contracts. More generally, the team provides support to clients on contractual issues, a lot of which involves drafting and negotiating agreements of all shapes and sizes. We also have specialist lawyers that deal with state aid, intellectual property, information technology and data protection. All-in-all, we provide a broad range of services from our hubs in Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.

· What does good governance mean to you?

Any manager or director has to ensure that their organisation is managed effectively and in compliance with the law. Getting corporate governance wrong can have a very detrimental effect on the finances and reputation of a business and those associated with it and can be hugely disruptive to its development and growth. Organisations must therefore have clear reporting lines, and rules and procedures for decision making. There also need to be effective means of managing conflicts of interest and accounting for benefits. Managers and directors need to have a clear understanding of these elements of the governance regime, as well as their wider appreciation of their legal rights and responsibilities. Good governance brings all of these elements together.

· How has membership of the IoD helped you in your career?

I’ve been a member of the IoD for over ten years now and have very much enjoyed the opportunities for both networking and personal development that it offers. All members can benefit from a great mixture of events ranging from site visits that give a real insight into leading local businesses, to more formal dining events that facilitate networking and discussion between senior executives. I’ve benefitted greatly from attending local events at which we’ve heard expert speakers give the benefit of their knowledge on topics of interest to anyone involved in management. For example, we recently explored the topical issue of hybrid working. The great thing about IoD events is that whenever I attend, I nearly always make a connection with another member that I’ve not met before – and building a network of senior executives has been really valuable in developing my career.

· You sit on the IoD North East (North) committee. Why is this important to you?

The promotion of good governance, and the benefits of taking a structured and professional approach to the management of any organisation, help directors operate more effectively – the benefits of which serve the economy and the community as a whole, and are not just a matter of “box ticking” legal compliance. I am therefore very happy to volunteer my time to help the IoD to promote its message to organisations in the region. As a commercial lawyer, there is a lot that I can offer members with regards to insight into the legal framework around governance. The message and values of the IoD are as relevant now as they were when its Royal Charter was granted – perhaps more so in the complex regulatory environment in which so many businesses operate. I’m happy to play my part in putting this agenda forward.

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