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Opting out of shareholder governance rights: a new perspective on contractual freedom in Australian corporate law

journal contribution
posted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by J McConvill, Mirko Bagaric
One of the classic debates in corporate law relates to whether the rules of corporate law are ar should be 'mandatory', in that companies must comply, or 'enabling' - meaning a set of default rules which companies have the choice of adopting or 'opting out' of through alternative contractual arrangements. The so-called 'mandatory/enabling' debate has been especially prominent in the United States fro numerous reasons, yet has also received some attention in Australia. That said, the extent to which companies can 'opt out' of corporate law has rarely been considered as a practical issue in Australia - particularly whether Australian companies can 'opt out' of provisions under the Corporations Act ("the Act"). However, just recently, two high-profile events in Australia have made 'opting out' of corporate law a relevant issue, especially the question of whether companies are free to 'opt out' of provisions of the Corporations Act  which provide express governance rights to shareholders. These events were Boral's constitutional amendment in 2003 to restrict the ability of shreholders to propose amendments to the company's constitution, and the contemplation and introduction of so-called 'pre-nuptial' agreements- designed to by-pass the right of shreholders to vote on removing directors in public companies. In the light of these two recent events, in this article the authors revisit the mandatory/enabling debate. However, rather than going over old ground as to whether a mandatory or enabling approach to corporate regulation is desirable, the authors approach the issue from a fresh perspective: that Australian Securitiesand Investments Commission's ("ASIC") existing relief powers under the Act should be extended to provide a means for companies to opt out of provisions containing shareholder governance rights.

History

Journal

DePaul business and commercial law journal

Volume

3

Issue

2

Season

Winter

Pagination

255 - 319

Publisher

DePaul University College and the Commercial Law League of America

Location

Chicago, Ill.

ISSN

1542-2763

eISSN

0010-3055

Language

eng

Publication classification

C3 Non-refereed articles in a professional journal

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