Comparative Corporate Law

The course consists of a comparative study of major areas of the company laws of the UK, continental Europe (in particular, Germany) and the United States as well as an assessment of the work done by the European Union in the field of company law.

The three areas or jurisdictions selected for comparative study have, collectively, had a very significant impact on the development of company law throughout the world. An understanding of these thus assists students in understanding both the content of, and influences upon, many others. The approach taken is both functional and comparative, looking at a series of core problems with which any system of corporate law must deal, and analysing, from a functional perspective, the solutions adopted by the systems in question. The course seeks to situate these solutions in the underlying concepts and assumptions of the chosen systems, as these often provide an explanation for divergences. To this end, the course begins with a contextual overview of ‘systems’ of corporate governance, which material is then applied in the following seminars on more substantive topics. Such a comparative study is intended to enable students to see their own system of company law in a new and more meaningful light, and to be able to form new views about its future development. Finally, a study of the ways in which the European Union is developing company law within its boundaries is also important, not only as illustrating, by a review of the harmonisation programme, the benefits to be derived from a comparative study in practice, but also because it shows new ways in which corporate vehicles can be developed to meet particular policy objectives.

The course assumes students have knowledge of the basic structure of corporate laws, such as would be gained from an undergraduate course (regardless of jurisdiction). 

Learning outcomes: an understanding of (1) the functions of corporate law, (2) the reasons why it may differ across jurisdictions, and (3) the operation of corporate law in the UK, US, and EU, together with a capacity to apply that knowledge to other jurisdictions.