Cyber risks will be a dominant issue for Canadian businesses in 2015, according to BLG.
Following a Statistics Canada report that 14% of large enterprises experienced an Internet security breach in 2013, BLG predicts Canadian companies will continue to face legal fall-out from data breaches, employee misconduct and reputation risk on social media.
Here are five more risks that BLG predicts.
1. Social slander
While many of the same laws that governpublished statements apply to social media, the environment comprises a whole new set of risks ranging from HR practices and defamation, to avoidance of copyright laws and electronic discovery that make organizations vulnerable to attack and legal consequences as a result of their own actions.
2. Internal investigations and compliance reviews
It is becoming a fact of life for companies, both public and private, that many directors, officers or senior executives could be involved in a white collar investigation or prosecution during the course of their professional careers. Some proceedings will be anticipated; others will come as a surprise.
Board members and senior management who remain unprepared will be particularly ill-equipped to explain real or perceived shortcomings to increasingly aggressive law enforcement authorities.
3. Mental health in the workplace
Despite research indicating that almost one-in-five Canadians will experience a mental health issue, the stigma attached to mental health means many employees are afraid to disclose their issue to management. Likewise, many employers avoid addressing issues with employees due to the uncomfortable nature of broaching the subject.
This is especially top of mind in jurisdictions like Ontario, which have adopted policies that impose an obligation on the employer to inquire about an employee’s mental health.
4. Product recall
Since the implementation of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) in June 2011, product recalls are on the rise, as are the risks to the bottom line of consumer product and manufacturing companies. A company dealing with a recall often loses the public’s trust in the brand and current market share and it could take years to return to the pre-recall status.
5. Unsettling revisions for investors
Numerous international tax rules and investment structures are being revised in ways that aren’t yet settled, creating risks for businesses and investors. With Canada’s proposed anti-treaty shopping rule from the 2014 federal budget and the OECD’s BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) initiatives being prime examples, both Canadians investing outside of Canada and non-residents investing in Canada (including collective investment vehicles) will need to deal with the uncertainty as to what constitutes acceptable tax planning, as well as new compliance and financial reporting obligations.