Directors could become difficult to hire, as an avalanche of legal responsibilities hits them.

Experts have warned that some recruiters are already experiencing a shortage.

Lovells corporate and litigation partner Neil Fagan was speaking at AIG Europe's sixth annual corporate governance seminar last week, held in London for its blue-chip clients.

The recent Higgs Review on the role of non-executive directors recommended that the pool of directors was widened from those found through the old boy network.

But Fagan said it could be difficult to find greater numbers of directors, given that their liabilities are so wide-ranging it took seven separate pieces of statutory legislation to set them out.

Meanwhile, he said group litigation orders, particularly those coming from the US against directors of international companies, were increasing.

Further legislation is expected on directors' duties when the DTI completes its current company law review.

"They've also got to worry about corporate manslaughter, which is not entirely out of the picture, and corporate social responsibility, which is particularly fashionable at the moment," Fagan said.