The Board is accountable to the Company’s shareholders for good corporate governance and it is the objective of the Board to attain a high standard of corporate governance. As an AIM-quoted company full compliance with The Principles of Good Governance and Code of Best Practice (2006) (the ‘Combined Code’) is not a formal obligation.
The Company has not sought to comply with the full provisions of the Combined Code; however, it has sought to adopt the provisions that are appropriate to its size and organisation and establish frameworks for the achievement of this objective.
This statement sets out the corporate governance procedures that are in place.
The Board of directors (the ‘Board’) consists of a Non-Executive Chairman, three Executive Directors and three Non-Executive Directors.
The responsibilities of the Non-Executive Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer are clearly divided. The Chairman is responsible for overseeing the running of the board, ensuring that no individual or group dominates the Board’s decision making and ensuring that the Non-Executive Directors are properly briefed on matters. Prior to each Board meeting, Directors are sent an agenda and Board papers for each agenda item to be discussed. Additional information is provided when requested by the Board or individual Directors.
The Chief Executive Officer has the responsibility for implementing the strategy of the Board and managing the day to day business activities of the group through his chairmanship of the executive committee.
The Non-Executive Directors bring relevant experience from different backgrounds and receive a fixed fee for their services and reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred in attending meetings.
The Board retains full and effective control of the Group. This includes responsibility for determining the Group’s strategy and for approving budgets and business plans to fulfil this strategy. The full Board ordinarily meets bi-monthly.
The Company Secretary is responsible to the Board for ensuring that Board procedures are followed and that the applicable rules and regulations are complied with. All Directors have access to the advice and services of the Company Secretary, and independent professional advice, if required, at the Company’s expense. Removal of the Company Secretary would be a matter for the Board.
The Board has a process for evaluation of its own performance which is carried out annually.
As appropriate, the Board has delegated certain responsibilities to Board committees.
The Audit Committee currently comprises Clare Spottiswoode CBE (Chairman), Professor Sir William Wakeham, Professor Keith Jackson and Mike Inglis.
The committee monitors the integrity of the Group’s financial statements and the effectiveness of the audit process. The committee reviews accounting policies and material accounting judgements. The committee also reviews, and reports on, reports from the Group’s auditors relating to the Group’s accounting controls. It makes recommendations to the Board on the appointment of auditors and the audit fee. It has unrestricted access to the Group’s auditors. The committee keeps under review the nature and extent of non-audit services provided by the external auditors in order to ensure that objectivity and independence are maintained.
The Remuneration Committee currently comprises Mike Inglis (Chairman), Clare Spottiswoode CBE, Professor Keith Jackson and Professor Sir William Wakeham. It is responsible for making recommendations to the Board on remuneration policy for Executive Directors and the terms of their service contracts, with the aim of ensuring that their remuneration, including any share options and other awards, is based on their own performance and that of the Group generally.
The nomination committee currently comprises Mike Inglis (Chairman), Professor Sir William Wakeham, Professor Keith Jackson and Clare Spottiswoode CBE. It is responsible for providing a formal, rigorous and transparent procedure for the appointment of new Directors to the board.
The Board is responsible for the systems of internal control and for reviewing their effectiveness. The internal controls are designed to manage rather than eliminate risk and provide reasonable but not absolute assurance against material misstatement or loss. The Audit committee reviews the effectiveness of these systems primarily by discussion with the external auditor and by considering the risks potentially affecting the Group.
The Group does not consider it necessary to have an internal audit function due to the small size of the administration function. Instead there is a detailed Director review and authorisation of transactions. The annual audit by the Group auditor, which tests a sample of transactions, did not highlight any significant system improvements in order to reduce risk.
The Group maintains appropriate insurance cover in respect of actions taken against the Executive Directors because of their roles, as well as against material loss or claims of the Group. The insured values and type of cover are comprehensively reviewed on a periodic basis.
The Board recognises its legal responsibility to ensure the well-being, safety and welfare of its employees and maintain a safe and healthy working environment for them and for its visitors. A Health and safety report is reviewed at each Board meeting and policies and procedures are independently reviewed to ensure compliance with best practice.