Most frequently encountered legal risks for European companies

In early 2007, 84 general counsel of “leading multinational companies,” largely companies with headquarters in Northern Europe or the UK and Ireland, ranked the legal risks they encounter in terms of frequency (See my posts of Nov. 5, 2005: legal risk with 7 references; and March 23, 2008: risk management with 18 references.)

The survey findings are in PLCLaw Dept. Quart., Vol. 3, April-June 2007, at 27.

Here are their top six risks in declining order of mentions as “most frequent”:

“Anti-trust/competition” (18.9%)
“Litigation” (14.9%)
“New legislation/regulation” (10.8%)
“General compliance” (10.8%)
“Fraud prevention” (6.8%)
“Operational/contractual risks” (6.8%)

I was surprised that every-day legal risks associated with contracts were not more of a concern, but it turns out that they are in the top three legal risks encountered (31%), as were “anti-trust/competition” (31%), and “new legislation/regulation” (30%).

Eleven other legal risks did not make it into the top six: “corporate governance/ethics,” “environmental regulation,” “document retention/data protection,” “fraud prevention,” “intellectual property”, “product liability,” “health and safety”, “business interruption,” “reporting/disclosure obligations,” “reputation,” and “employment.” Of those 11, three strike me as peculiar in terms of the law department being responsible for them: fraud, business interruption, and reputation (See my post of Jan. 3, 2008: business continuity planning for law departments.).

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