A conversation with José Costa Pinto, Founding Partner at Costa Pinto & Associados - Sociedade de Advogados, President of the National Association of Portuguese Young Lawyers (ANJAP) and member of AIJA.
José will be speaking at the session “Corporate governance today and tomorrow” during the AIJA Half-Year Conference taking place from 23-26 May, in Warsaw.
Q1: What can participants expect from the session “Corporate governance today and tomorrow”?
Participants can expect a multi-jurisdiction view on the most relevant corporate governance issues today, such as board composition and structure, remuneration and compensation, shareholder activism, gender gap and culture and behaviour matters. I believe that, further to the speakers’ interventions, we can also expect an interesting debate and exchange of ideas with the audience.
Q2: What are the main challenges and opportunities for effective corporate governance?
The main challenge is to be perceived as an asset by companies, shareholders and stakeholders rather than a cost and a burden they have to overcome. I believe, however, that the latest financial and corporate scandals have contributed to a significant increase of social and academic awareness regarding the value of “good governance” over the last decade. This can be decisive for the dawn of effective corporate governance.
Q3: What are the current developments in corporate governance? And how have these impacted the business?
From a Portuguese perspective, I have to highlight the new “Corporate Governance Code” which was enacted by a civil association – the Portuguese Institute of Corporate Governance – and replaces as from January 2018 the former “Corporate Governance Code” issued by the Stock Market Commission. Portuguese companies will now have to adapt their own structures and practices to the new rules, which will be evaluated for the first time in 2019.
Q4: Shareholder activism and their ability to influence corporate management have steadily increased over the last year. What are best practices in effectively engaging with shareholders and addressing their concerns?
It is indeed correct to state that the pressure on the boards of companies has significantly increased over the last years, due to the implementation of several mechanisms that have improved shareholders’ activism. In several jurisdictions there were significant changes in law and corporate governance codes aimed at increasing shareholders’ powers and enhancing their ability to control the board of directors and the management. It is crucial to minimise the information gap between shareholders and the board, to boost the former’s ability to participate – on a standalone basis or together with other shareholders – in the shareholders’ meeting, as well as to submit a wider range of matters to their prior approval.
Q5: What is the role of the lawyer in establishing effective corporate governance practices?
Lawyers must be side-by-side with the boards and the management, developing a permanent and vigilant work on the development of the companies’ activities and their capacity to maintain their governance models working properly.
Q6: In your view, what are the skills a good corporate governance lawyer should have to be successful in his/her career?
Since corporate governance is a multidisciplinary field of practice, it is crucial for corporate governance lawyers to be constantly up-to-date, not only on legal matters related to corporate governance, but also on management and economic matters. This entails a permanent study and constant legal practice, but also a capacity to follow the news on the most relevant companies and economies to understand the full framework of the corporate governance and, thus, be able to properly advise clients.
The Half-Year Conference will be divided into two seminars. The first one will focus on current trends and developments in corporate governance, while the second one will focus on the relationship between in-house and outside counsel and their clients. Other exciting news will be announced soon, so stay tuned on our social media channels and website to get the latest updates.
See you in Warsaw!