What Does it Mean to Be a Monitor?

Compliance & Enforcement
4 minute read | January.18.2017

In a post on this site last fall, Prof. Veronica Root asked "What Does It Mean to be a Monitor?" The point of her piece was to explain how the term "monitor" describes a number of activities and assignments that can be quite different from one another. Prof. Root's post faithfully described different monitorship models, from court-ordered monitorships to corporate compliance monitorships. But the otherwise excellent post did not touch on a key piece of the monitorship puzzle—proactive monitorships, created in the absence of an action or settlement as a prophylactic against wrongdoing—without which any discussion of monitorships is incomplete.

Proactive monitors, sometimes called "integrity monitors" or in some contexts "independent private sector inspectors general," play an important and growing role in the world of monitorships. A recent high-profile example is New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin's open letter to President-elect Donald Trump, in which he suggested that if Mr. Trump did not place his assets in a blind trust, one way for him to ease concerns about potential conflicts of interest posed by his business empire would be to engage a corporate monitor to examine and report on such conflicts. Such a monitor would, of course, have to be "truly independent."