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Get on top of company law

Confused about what the company law review actually means? Get some help from the net, says Philip Smith

The news that the final report of the company law review is soon to be published will be welcomed across the profession.

Three years in the making, the debate on company law and general corporate governance issues has raged while companies have cried out for better guidance.

The internet is a good source for reference material on the review, but initial searches prove that you have to dig around to find the information.

The review is being carried out under the watchful eye of the Department of Trade and Industry, so it makes sense to check out its website to see what you can find. You have to hunt for a while, but when you get to the right spot, the information is very useful.

Go to www.dti.gov.uk/cld – the ‘cld’ stands for company law directorate – and you can download the latest, though now slightly dated, report from the review’s steering committee, Completing the Structure.

In fact there must be about twenty or thirty different pdf files that can be downloaded, containing empirical research and responses to the various consultative documents that have been issued by the review.

There is also a good backgrounder to the whole debate. Not the prettiest site, it nonetheless does the job very efficiently.

It is also worth searching the ICAEW’s website, www.icaew.co.uk, for more information. As well as a number of responses to the work of the steering group, the site has a comprehensive list of links for information on company law and corporate governance.

One such link is to the Centre for Corporate Governance Research at Birmingham Business School. At www.business.bham. ac.uk/ccgr you get a quick round-up of what the department does, but unfortunately it is not possible to access material over the internet.

This is a shame as no doubt there is plenty of useful research in the department. If one is looking to broaden out from the company law review to more general corporate governance issues, the PIRC site is very good.

www.pirc.co.uk is the website for Pensions Investment Research Consultants, long-time harassers of corporates that fail to govern.

Aimed primarily at institutional investors, the site has a number of interesting features and research material. A number of the documents will cost you, but at least you are able to order them online.

PIRC’s views on corporate social responsibility make for good reading.

A straightforward site, PIRC obviously wants to charge for its research, but convinces that it would be money well spent.

Across the pond, www.corpgov.net, provides a good US take on corporate governance issues.

The site is slicker than those in the UK, with some helpful links and thought-provoking discussion areas.

But like most of the other sites listed here, there is no real attempt to grab the reader, just a desire to get information across in a simple and clear way.

Our top company law review sites: DTI scores the highest

www.dti.gov.uk/cld

The Company Law Directorate’s page on the DTI site has all the documents you need to read to understand the company law review.

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www.business.bham.ac.uk/ccgr

The Centre for Corporate Governance Research, part of the Birmingham Business School, misses opportunity to put its message across.

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www.pirc.co.uk

Site for the Pensions Investment Research Consultants doesn’t give away too much for free, but you can order online.

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www.corpgov.net

The US counterpart for the corporate governance debate, like the other websites, keeps things simple but clear.

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