The Multinational Challenge to Corporation Law: The Search for a New Corporate Personality

By Phillip I. Blumberg | Go to book overview

11
The Jurisprudence of Enterprise Law

As multinational groups have come to dominate the world economy in the twentieth century, the law is inevitably changing. The law is responding to the challenge presented by the fundamental transformation of the economy from the very different world of earlier centuries in which business was conducted by single corporations to one dominated by complex corporate groups.

Dealing with single corporations conducting a business, nineteenthcentury corporate jurisprudence readily determined corporate rights and responsibilities arising from conduct of the business solely by reference to the corporation in question. Such recognition of the separate legal identity of the corporation distinct from the identity of its shareholders was then fully in accord with the economic realities: the corporation conducted the business and the shareholders were investors. The separate legal identities of the corporation and the shareholders fully matched the economic separation between the business and the investors. Similarly, when the concept of the separate corporate identity was powerfully reinforced by the adoption of the principle of the limited liability of shareholders to encourage investment, limited liability protected only the investors, not the business or any part of it.

With the development of corporate groups, continued application of nineteenth-century jurisprudence, which focused on the separateness of the corporation and insulated its shareholder or shareholders from responsibility, was in sharp contrast to the reality. Although the legal concept still matched the separate economic role of the parent

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