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Many studies of the early evolution of company law in ‘origin’ jurisdictions such as England and France have alerted us to the politically contested nature of this area of law, particularly during the period when the principle of the freedom of incorporation without overt interference from the state was being established. Only relatively recently has there been a growth in studies which have analysed the ‘transplant’ and subsequent development of company law in colonial settings with such sensitivity to politics. Some of this scholarship has been framed as a corrective to the general assumption that colonial company law transplants were merely uninteresting copies of the law of the metropolis. Meanwhile, other papers have been written in critical response to the ‘legal origins’ thesis of the late 1990s which assumed that transplants of company law had occurred in a straightforward and uncontested manner during the colonial era such that it was possible to causally link levels of shareholder protection in the present to the legal family of a country’s former coloniser. Such raise a number of interrelated questions: To what extent did colonial company law function as a tool of imperialism to facilitate both state and private exploitation of resources? To what extent was the initial transplant a direct copy of the law of the metropolis, and then to what extent did any subsequent changes continue to follow the pattern of the domestic law of the colonial power? To what extent was the law contested by local populations and/or adapted for their use? And further, was the law actually used in the colony and, if so, by which population groups?
This research has produced the following publication:
Since the conclusion of the Paris Agreement in 2015, there has been a very significant shift in the way climate change is framed and understood by business and investors. No longer merely an ethical or corporate social responsibility issue, climate change is now widely recognised as posing financially material risks. Equally, business and investors are increasingly cast as critical actors in society's response to climate change. If sustainability is integral to investor decision-making on how to construct portfolios and allocate capital, as well as to investor stewardship activities, such as engagement with companies, investors can potentially play a significant role in helping to align capital, resources and economic activity to clean energy outcomes. Drawing on an analysis of the legal context, prevailing investment theory and practice, as well as the emerging sustainable finance agenda, this project explores decision-making by a group of Australian institutional investors (superannuation funds and fund managers) on climate change. The project seeks to evaluate whether and how this decision-making is changing as a result of the consideration and integration of climate risks; and in turn, whether this is contributing to a shift of capital and resources in ways which support the transition away from a carbon intensive to a clean energy economy.
This project has produced the following publications:
The research is part of a larger Monash University Network of Excellence project on Enhancing Corporate Accountability. The comparative study of regulatory and corporate governance examines mechanisms that are available to hold directors accountable for breaches of duty in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Australia, the US and the UK.
The project investigates the regulation of debt management firms in Australia and internationally. The financial impact of Covid-19 has led to increasing debt and vulnerability to predatory conduct by businesses seeking to profit from consumers in financial difficulty. Consumer advocates have raised significant concerns regarding harm to vulnerable consumers caused by debt management firms (DMFs). Likewise, ASIC’s report in 2016 reveals that fees and costs of DMFs’ services are often opaque, and consumers in financial difficulty are commonly channelled towards high-cost services provided by DMFs which are unsuited to their needs when there are cheaper and more suitable options for managing debt.
The research is aimed at facilitating a more nuanced understanding of: