Serving as an independent director carries serious obligations and responsibilities.
Following the passage of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), the role of independent directors has become that of securities monitor. They must be informed of developments within the company, ensure good processes for accurate disclosures and make reasonable efforts to assure that disclosures are adequate. Independent directors, like inside directors, should be fully aware of the company’s press releases, public statements and communications with security holders and sufficiently engaged and active to questions and correct inadequate disclosures.
Disclosure and Transparency
The basic premise of federal securities laws is disclosure and transparency. The theory behind this regulatory structure is that if a Company is forced to disclose information about particular transactions, plans or programs, the company and its officers and directors will take greater care in making business decisions. If a director knows or should know that his or her company’s statements concerning particular issues are inadequate or incomplete,
Historically the regulation of corporate law has been firmly within the power and authority of the states. However, over the past few decades the federal government has become increasingly active in matters of corporate governance. Typically this occurs in waves as a response to periods of scandal in specific business sectors or in the financial markets. Traditionally, when the federal government intervenes in these situations, they enact regulation either directly or indirectly by imposing upon state corporate regulations.
Specifically, the predominant method of federal regulation of corporate governance is through the enactment of mandatory terms that either reverse or preempt state laws on the same point. The most recently prominent example is the passing of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX).
Sarbanes Oxley (SOX)
SOX regulates corporate governance in five matters: (i) SOX prevents corporations from engaging the same accounting firm to provide both audit and specified non-audit services; (ii) SOX requires that audit committees of listed companies be