D&O: Entering Uncharted Territory

Introduction by Joanna Page, Partner, Allen & Overy and Francis Kean, Executive Director, Willis Towers Watson
Welcome to this the fifth edition in a series of surveys on directors’ liabilities, brought to you by the international law firm Allen & Overy LLP and the global advisory broking and solutions company Willis Towers Watson.

We began this exercise back in 2011 when – fresh from the throes of the global financial crisis – directors and high-ranking executives in public and privately-held corporations were feeling particularly exposed to liability and subject to an unprecedented degree of scrutiny. That said, the incidence of actual criminal, civil or even regulatory proceedings against individuals was still vanishingly small. To plug that perceived accountability gap, the last six years have seen a steady increase in laws and regulations aimed at senior executives.

Over the following pages, we have revisited several of the themes that have consistently presented themselves in previous years, as well as highlighting several new developments that add to the breadth of concerns keeping directors and officers awake at night. We have looked not only at the risks and exposures facing business leaders, but also how well they feel their insurers are responding. In all, we surveyed 127 directors, non-executive directors, in-house lawyers, risk officers and compliance professionals, working in companies operating all over the world. We thank them all for taking the time to complete our survey and allowing us to create this market snapshot.