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The Emperor's New Code? Time to Re‐Evaluate the Nature of Stewardship Engagement Under the UK's Stewardship Code

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Abstract: John Kingman's review of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) doubted the effectiveness of the UK's Stewardship Code in encouraging informed and engaged stewardship by institutional investors of the companies in which they invest (issuers). Accordingly, the FRC updated the Stewardship Code in 2020 in a final bid to prove its effectiveness and relevance, and, in particular, to enhance issuer‐specific engagement by institutional investors. The update has enhanced the reach and substance of the Code. However, the legal, regulatory, contractual and competitive environment in which institutional investors exist will constantly forestall soft‐law attempts to foster greater issuer‐specific engagement, a point perhaps tacitly acknowledged by the 2020 Stewardship Code with its wider scope. Instead, in relation to engagement, stewardship disclosure should focus on the types of engagement that institutional investors are motivated to exercise in practice, such as engagement in response to hedge fund activism, and engagement on systemic risks.




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The Modern Law Review

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