Monday 11 April 2016

Mauritius: 'apply and explain' and a new governance code

The National Committee on Corporate Governance has published for public comment a draft of a new corporate governance code: see here (pdf). The code contains eight mandatory principles with supporting guidance and recommendations and, to quote from page six of the document containing the Code, it is:

Based on a philosophy of application coupled with disclosure, the Code employs an ‘apply-and-explain’ methodology. The Code of Corporate Governance for Mauritius is the first to adopt this new approach to corporate governance. This is a departure from the ‘comply-or-explain’ approach associated with the Cadbury Report in the UK (1992) and the ‘apply-or-explain’ approach associated with the Dutch Tabaksblat Code of Corporate Governance (2004) and the King III Report in South Africa (2009)."

A couple of comments (not intended, in any way, as criticism). First, a draft of South Africa's new corporate governance code - known as King IV - was published earlier this year and this adopts 'apply and explain'. Second, useful as these labels may be in describing an ethos or tradition, do they fully capture the way in which governance codes and frameworks operate in practice?  For example, is the approach proposed for Mauritius very different from that in the United Kingdom where Listing Rule 9.8.6 requires listed companies to apply the Main Principles of the UK Corporate Governance Code and to provide information about their compliance (or not) with the Code's provisions?

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