Directors' Duties and Liabilities in Bangladesh: Legal Responsibilities and Risks
Directors of a company have a significant role to play in the smooth operation and growth of the company. They are responsible for managing the affairs of the company and taking decisions that benefit the company and its stakeholders. In Bangladesh, directors are bound by various legal obligations, and failure to comply with these obligations may result in legal liabilities and risks. In this article, we will discuss the legal responsibilities and risks of directors in Bangladesh, along with some scenarios and examples.
Legal Responsibilities of Directors in Bangladesh
1. Duty to act in good faith and in the best interests of the company: Directors have a fiduciary duty to act in good faith and in the best interests of the company. They must always act honestly, with due care and diligence, and in a way that promotes the long-term success of the company.
Scenario: A director of a company approves a deal that benefits his personal interests but is not in the best interests of the company. The shareholders of the company can sue the director for breaching his fiduciary duty.
2. Duty to exercise due care, skill, and diligence: Directors are expected to exercise due care, skill, and diligence while performing their duties. They must take reasonable steps to ensure that they have the necessary information and understanding of the company's affairs to make informed decisions.
Scenario: A director fails to review the financial statements of the company before approving a major investment. The company incurs losses due to the investment, and the shareholders hold the director responsible for not exercising due care and diligence.
3. Duty to avoid conflicts of interest: Directors must avoid situations where their personal interests conflict with those of the company. If such a conflict arises, they must disclose it to the board and abstain from voting on the matter.
Scenario: A director of a company approves a contract with a company in which he has a substantial interest without disclosing his interest to the board. The shareholders can sue the director for breaching his duty to avoid conflicts of interest.
4. Duty to maintain confidentiality: Directors must maintain the confidentiality of the company's information, including trade secrets, customer lists, and financial information. They must not disclose such information to anyone outside the company without proper authorization.
Scenario: A director of a company discloses the company's confidential information to a third party without authorization. The company can sue the director for breaching his duty to maintain confidentiality.
5. Duty to comply with laws and regulations: Directors must ensure that the company complies with all applicable laws and regulations. They must stay up to date with the changing laws and regulations and take necessary steps to ensure compliance.
Scenario: A director of a company fails to comply with the environmental regulations applicable to the company's operations. The company faces penalties for non-compliance, and the director can be held responsible for breaching his duty to comply with laws and regulations.
Liabilities and Risks of Directors in Bangladesh
1. Civil liability: Directors can be held civilly liable for breaching their legal responsibilities. This may result in the payment of damages to the company or its stakeholders.
Example: A director of a company approves a project that causes environmental damage. The company faces a lawsuit from the affected parties, and the court orders the director to pay damages to the plaintiffs.
2. Criminal liability: Directors may face criminal liability for committing offenses such as fraud, embezzlement, or bribery. They may face imprisonment, fines, or both for such offenses.
Example: A director of a company embezzles funds from the company's account for personal gain. The company files a complaint with the police, and the director is arrested and charged with embezzlement.
3. Disqualification as a director: Directors who breach their legal responsibilities may bedisqualified from serving as a director in the future. The court or the regulatory authority may disqualify a director for a specified period or permanently.
Example: A director of a company is found to have breached his fiduciary duty by approving a deal that benefited his personal interests. The court orders the director to pay damages to the company and disqualifies him from serving as a director for a period of five years.
4. Reputation damage: Breaching legal responsibilities can damage the reputation of a director. It may affect their ability to secure future employment or business opportunities.
Example: A director of a company is found to have breached his duty to maintain confidentiality by disclosing confidential information to a third party. The incident becomes public, and the director's reputation is damaged, making it difficult for him to secure future employment.
5. Personal financial loss: Directors may face personal financial loss if they are held liable for breaching their legal responsibilities. They may have to pay damages out of their personal assets or face a loss of income if disqualified as a director.
Example: A director of a company fails to exercise due care and diligence while approving a major investment, resulting in significant losses for the company. The shareholders sue the director for breach of duty, and the court orders the director to pay damages out of his personal assets.
Directors of a company in Bangladesh have legal responsibilities to fulfill, and failure to do so can result in significant liabilities and risks. It is crucial for directors to act in good faith, exercise due care and diligence, avoid conflicts of interest, maintain confidentiality, and ensure compliance with laws and regulations. Directors who breach their legal responsibilities may face civil or criminal liability, disqualification as a director, reputation damage, personal financial loss, or a combination of these. It is essential for directors to understand their legal obligations and take necessary steps to fulfill them to avoid legal liabilities and risks.