Cheong Wa Dae said Monday it will take some time before giving the green light to a new bill requiring listed companies to hire legal experts.
The National Assembly last month passed a revised commercial bill that requires all listed businesses to employ lawyers or law professors of more than five years’ experience to monitor for potential legal problems in addition to the counsels they already have to deal with the feuds post factum.
The bill is criticized for catering to lawyers’ lobbying to provide them with more jobs.
Noting the introduction of such legal compliance programs by multinational corporations, 33 assemblymen including 15 former attorneys and judges submitted the bill in 2009. The bill had been an election pledge of Korean Bar Association presidents since 2009.
“The law will not be reported to the Cabinet meeting this week as there is no social consensus on it yet,” President Lee Myung-bak’s spokesperson Kim Hee-jung said.
The final deadline for the government to approve the bill is April 15.
Listed small and medium-sized companies oppose the mandatory employment of legal experts, calling it excessive regulation.
Listed financial companies and large businesses already have the internal legal watchdogs.
The presidential office is reportedly reviewing obligating only listed companies larger than certain sizes to hire legal compliance experts.
“We are simply collecting opinions of interested parties and looking into whether we need to rewrite the ordinances pertaining to the law,” a Cheong Wa Dae official said.
The presidential office has not ruled out the possibility of vetoing the bill.
If the government decides to obligate companies with assets worth 100 billion won or more to employ the legal compliance staff, it would create jobs for 1,000 more legal experts, according to business circles.
As Lee has warned against nepotism and other practices preferable for the privileged as part of his policies for “fair society” since last year, public opinion on the bill is likely to have an impact on the government’s final decision.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org