The landscape for executives is further complicated by a number of emerging perils, such as liability around cyber-attacks and data privacy. In the US; several class actions have already been filed related to data breaches. Data protection rules around the world are becoming increasingly tough, with severe penalties for non-compliance. As a consequence, AGCS experts anticipate cyber security-related D&O litigation more widely in the US, but also in Europe, the Middle East and Australia – if there has been negligence in any failure to protect data or a lack of controls. “Many directors used to see cyber as an IT issue and not an exposure for the board to consider,” explains Emy Donavan, Regional Head of Cyber Liability North America, AGCS. “But there is no escaping cyber risks and directors need to be adequately informed, otherwise they will leave themselves exposed.”
Other new management risks include negative disclosures or allegations around environmental pollution, climate change and modern slavery which could result in reputational risks and shareholder activism, public outcry or governmental action.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) continue to be a key driver of D&O litigation and is predicted to continue at rapid pace in future. “M&A, but also divestitures, belong to the more riskier moments in the life of a company,” says Poncin. “Expectations are always high, and synergies are easier planned than realized.”