SOAS University of London

School of Law

International and Comparative Corporate Law

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

Corporations are major actors in every area of life – the economy, the environment, human rights, and so on. Yet most people know little or nothing about the legal foundations of their existence or the multinational legal environment in which they are born and function.

The aim of the module is to provide a sound basis of knowledge about these matters by examining:

  • the nature of the corporation;
  • the development of the corporate form;
  • the transfer of the corporate form to selected jurisdictions; and
  • case studies of transnational issues.

The approach taken is theoretical, historical, comparative and contextual. Given the breadth of material studied, only a small amount of class time is devoted to technical legal matters.

The subjects studied may vary from year to year, but usually include:

  • Nature of the Corporation – introduction to the module; fundamental concepts; theory;
  • Development of the Corporate Form - early history, Islamic perspectives, early European law, France, Germany, England and the United States;
  • Transfer of the Corporate Form - USSR/Russia; China; Middle East;
  • Case Studies of Transnational Issues - international corporate groups and liability for group actions; comparative corporate governance, taking Enron as a case study.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • The provision of an understanding of the development of the corporate form and key concepts of corporate law in a comparative context, using a critical analysis of comparative law theories that seek to explain legal development in a globalising economic environment;
  • Taking an historical perspective, the exploration of the evolution of business cultures and the conceptual underpinnings of the corporate entity and showing how these have been developed in different times and places.
  • Examining the evolution of business cultures, corporate forms, and core company law concepts from within the four origin legal systems, ie the major industrial powers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to their application and further development outside these powers, with especial emphasis on the transplantation and adaptation of corporate entity and company law concepts and their application to pressing problems such as corporate governance.

Method of assessment

  • Coursework: 25% (2000 words) and 75% (6000 words)

Suggested reading

  • Foster, NHD (2006) 'Perception, Language and 'Reality' in Corporate Law Theory' (17) King's College Law Journal 299
  • Foster, NHD (2005 and 2007) 'The Theoretical Background: The Nature of the Actors in Corporate Social Responsibility' in Tully, S (ed) Research Handbook on Corporate Legal Responsibility Edward Elgar Publishing Limited

These articles overlap, but it is worth reading both.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules