Law School involved in East meets West Conference

21 August 2017
Susan Watson

The Auckland Law School convened an international conference in Australia last week at the University of Sydney examining corporate governance and regulation.

The two-day event taking place at Sydney Law School entitled Corporate Governance & Regulation: East Meets West Conference, brought together experts to discuss key developments in the field of corporate governance and regulation in Australia, the United States and Asia.

Featuring over a dozen speakers, the line-up included Professor Susan Watson, Deputy Dean of Law at the University of Auckland, who will deliver a paper on The Corporation as a Fund.

Professor Watson’s presentation argued that the modern company should be thought of as a legal person that does not contain people but rather rights - such as the right to agreed capital contributions from shareholders, and ownership rights in property.

As a legal person the company has reputation, brand and goodwill attached to it that has value. The role of the board as the guardian and representative of the legal person is to maximise and sustain the legal person. Such a conceptualisation is backed by the development of the company into an entity legally separate from shareholders which occurred by the end of the nineteenth century, and highlights the central importance of the board. Entity sustainability and maximisation also shifts the role of the board beyond needing to balance off short term or long term interests, and also needing to balance off the interests of shareholders in the short or long term against the interests of non-shareholder constituencies like management, employees and creditors.

The East Meets West Conference formed part of the University of Sydney’s Innovation Week. To find out more including the full list of speakers visit http://sydney.edu.au/law/events/2017/Aug/East_Meets_West.shtml