The School of Law hosted an alumni event with Professor Alan Dignam on 'UK Corporate Governance in a Post-Pandemic World'.
Alan Dignam is Professor of Corporate Law at Queen Mary University of London and has published widely on company and commercial law matters. He is the chair of the Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre. In December 2020 his appointment as Honorary Queen’s Counsel was approved by the Queen.
Professor Dignam’s lecture examined the impact of the emergency Covid-19 suspension of key UK company law provisions that allow shareholder democracy to operate, the impact of Covid-19 rights issues, dividend suspension, increased debt and the rise of private equity and special purpose vehicles. While some have observed this may have a positive post-pandemic impact in producing a new greener, less shareholder oriented corporate economy, this lecture argued that the combination of accountability suspension and post pandemic dominance of private finance risks creating a dual corporate economy where the UK's largest successful surviving companies will become private legal entities with limited transparency and accountability and the weaker highly leveraged companies limp on in the public markets with a post pandemic legacy of audit irregularity, remuneration issues and financial scandal. The dangers of misunderstanding the impact of Covid-19 suspension of legal rights and market responses to that are significant and so its important that we consider at this point how we react to and shape policy in advance of a looming market response that will narrow our choices quickly.