The Board recognises the importance of high standards of corporate governance as the basis for promoting long-term growth for the benefit of all of the Group’s stakeholders.
As Chairman, I am responsible for leading the Board to ensure that it has in place the strategy, people, structure and culture to deliver value to its stakeholders, and for ensuring that the governance arrangements that the Group has in place are proportionate and appropriate for size and the constitution of the Board and the complexity of the business. In accordance with the AIM rules the Group has elected to comply with the principles set out in the Corporate Governance Code for small and mid-sized companies published by the Quoted Companies Alliance in April 2018 (the QCA Code) as the basis of its governance framework.
The underlying principle of the QCA Code is to “ensure the Company is managed in an efficient, effective and entrepreneurial manner for the benefit of all shareholders over the longer term”.
As a Board, we are committed to providing the leadership required to ensure that the culture that is so integral to the success of the business is embedded within the business and work hard to engage with employees and other key stakeholders to ensure that this healthy corporate culture continues to be delivered through open and honest dialogue and we are delighted to set out below how we comply with the QCA Code.
Balbinder Johal, Chairman
Our strategy is to be the leading legal and professional services business outside London and we aim to achieve this through:
attracting new talent (be that individuals or teams) wishing to be part of a progressive legal and professional services business;
roll-out of new offices into target regional locations;
outsourcing from national and international firms;
increasing productivity through better use of IT;
enhanced cross-selling plus the addition of new service lines within the existing business; and
acquisitive growth by continuing to acquire legal teams or firms offering geographic expansion into attractive new regional markets for Knights, and to further expand offerings in existing regional locations.
The CEO and CFO communicate regularly with shareholders, investors and analysts, including at our half-year and full year results roadshows. The full Board is available at the Annual General Meeting (‘AGM’) to communicate with shareholders.
Aside from our shareholders, our clients, employees, suppliers, and regulators are our most important stakeholders. We engage with these communities via regular communications in our day-to-day activities, and via formal feedback requests. We also understand the importance that we can play in giving back to our communities and our ESG report refers to the role that we play in this regard.
The Board considers risk to the business at each Board meeting and via its standing committees; The Audit Committee, Remuneration Committee and Disclosure Committee.
Both the Board and senior managers are responsible for reviewing and evaluating risk and the Executive Directors meet at least monthly to review ongoing trading performance, discuss budgets, forecasts and new risks identified.
The Board has three established Committees for Audit, Remuneration and Disclosure. The composition and experience of the Board is reviewed regularly by the Board, with external advice being obtained where required. During the year Stephen Dolton resigned as a Non-Executive Director, chair of the audit committee and senior independent Director and was replaced by Gillian Davies in each of those roles. External advice was obtained by the Board to ensure that Stephen’s replacement had the required level of skills and experience to ensure that the Board remains well balanced. Given the size and composition of the Board, the Board does not consider that a Nominations Committee is required.
The Board is satisfied that its current composition includes an appropriate balance of skills, experience and capabilities, including experience of recruitment, people management, technology and funding requirements and risk management.
The Board regularly considers the effectiveness and relevance of its contributions, any learning and development needs and the level of scrutiny of the Senior Management Team but at this stage has considered that internal review is sufficient given the size of the Board. This will be kept under continuous review.
Being a regulated law firm, the Group is focused on promoting a strong ethical corporate culture. The Board implements a policy of equal opportunities in the recruitment and engagement of employees during the course of their employment and recognises the importance of honest and open feedback at all times to facilitate the growth of individuals and teams within the business.
The Group prides itself on its culture, and maintaining that culture through consistent engagement with its staff is integral to the Group’s success. Throughout the pandemic this has been more important than ever and regular meetings and webinars have been conducted at every level to ensure that this culture has been continually fostered despite remote working practices being in place throughout the year.
The Board is responsible for the Group’s overall strategic direction and management and meets regularly to review, formulate and approve the Group’s strategy, budgets, corporate actions and oversee the Group’s progress towards its goals. The Group has a set of Reserved Matters for approval by the Board has been established and is regularly reviewed given the growth of the business.
The Group is committed to maintaining good communication and having constructive dialogue with its shareholders. Regular institutional shareholder meetings and PCFM days are held with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer to discuss Company performance, particularly following publication of the Group’s interim and full year results.
In addition a range of corporate information (including copies of presentations and announcements, and an overview of activities of the Group) are available on the Group’s website.