DTI backs global stance

The government raised the possibility of UK companies adopting international accounting standards in its long-awaited consultation document on the company law review.

Chaired by John Lewis chairman Sir Stuart Hampson, the review panel has heeded the European Commission’s call for national governments to recognise IASs to speed equity-market consolidation.

As well as asking whether the UK should adopt IASs, the panel’s ‘strategic consultation document’ pulls together all the areas to be tackled in legislation the government is hoping to put before parliament in 2001.

The trade department said no decisions had been taken, but that the paper was intended to stimulate wider debate.

Some of the issues raised, such as limited liability partnerships and regulation of the professions, have already been published in previous consultation papers, which will be examined by working parties under the wider company law review umbrella. Insolvency will be examined separately.

‘Fat cat’ controversies are likely to be tackled in proposals that could make directors’ pay subject to shareholder approval.

The paper will also ask whether statutory accounts are worth preparing for smaller companies. But limited liability status is not threatened.

Head of policy at the Forum of Private Business Nick Goulding, a member of the consultative committee, said: ‘We’re hoping for a simplified regime which minimises the compliance costs for small companies.’

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