Lords passes Companies Bill despite outcry

The biggest change to company law in the past 30 years has been passed by the House of Lords, despite being derided by the GC100 and other business leaders.

Nick Folland, GC100 board member and general counsel of media group Emap, said: “This amendment deals with just one concern. It doesn’t tackle the wider issues. We have concerns that the bill was formed as a result of political compromise and not with the objective of creating sensible legislation to benefit UK companies.”

The GC100 managed to get a small concession to the Companies Bill, but the bulk of it should gain Royal Assent during the Queen’s Speech on 15 November.

The GC100, made up of general counsel from FTSE100 companies, and other business interest groups met with Industry Minister Margaret Hodge on 30 October to ask for changes to her own last-minute alterations to the bill and to demand an explanation as to why they were added without consultation in mid-October.

Those amendments required directors to disclose information about supply chains and to encourage corporate social responsibility. Business groups thought the amendments’ wording was too vague and that they would create onerous legal consultation for companies.

The sole concession bowed to concerns about animal rights activists gleaning sensitive information. Directors now do not have to disclose information prejudicial to an individual or contrary to public interest.