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Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2020)
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is conventionally understood as voluntary and market-based corporate behavior without direct involvement of government. The CSR development in China is challenging this typical understanding. Over the past decade, China has demonstrated a state-centric approach in promoting CSR. It may be understood as a complementary regulatory approach to address the limitations of a fully market-based CSR model. While existing studies have already noticed the state-led approach to CSR in China, they only focus on its application in advancing Chinese domestic CSR practices. With the rise of Chinese companies’ overseas investment under China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) Initiative, it is important to examine how the state-centric approach applies to Chinese companies’ overseas CSR. This is an urgent issue given that China’s foreign investment is significantly concentrated in countries where legal and regulatory institutions are weak to protect social and environmental justice.This dissertation aims to fill this literature gap through an examination of China’s CSR policy development and a Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE)’s infrastructure project in Africa. It firstly provides an overview of the various measures adopted by the Chinese government and its affiliated institutions including SOEs and state-owned banks in promoting CSR. It uses qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze relevant legal documents published by the Chinese government, Chinese companies and financial institutions between 2007 and 2017. The analysis provides a legal framework of how existing Chinese policies and guidelines may shape Chinese companies’ social and environmental behavior overseas. Secondly, it gives a close look at China’s CSR development in Africa, the major investment destination of the OBOR Initiative. It also gives an in-depth analysis of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project in Kenya. The findings are based on in-depth interviews, an extensive review of publicly available documents, and field visits to project sites between September 2016 and February 2017. Thirdly, through the policy analysis and the empirical case study, the dissertation analyzes the strengths and limitations of the state-centric approach in advancing Chinese companies’ overseas CSR. It also recommends how to improve China’s state-centric approach when applied abroad.
Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Multinational corporate groups are now the world’s dominant economic institution. In the common law jurisdictions analyzed in this thesis, (the U.K., the U.S. and Canada) legal regulation has not kept pace with regulating the intragroup liability of corporate groups. This thesis focuses on the circumstances under which a subsidiary’s tortious liability should be attributed to the parent company. Through a comparative examination of the case law in the three-subject jurisdiction, this thesis investigates the common law’s attempt to set aside the principles of limited liability and separate corporate personality in order to hold a parent company responsible for its subsidiary’s liability. My multi-jurisdictional comparative analysis of the judicial approaches to allocating tortious liability vertically in corporate groups concludes that while veil piercing remedy is inconsistent in many ways with the economic realities of how parent and subsidiary companies are related, strong policy considerations nonetheless still support its use. Yet, this approach still does not fully address the liability deficit problem characteristic of corporate groups which the common law has been attempting to address through incremental adjustment. This, thesis, therefore calls for legislative correction of the liability deficit problem by making the following recommendations for reform: Parent companies should be required by law to assume the tortious liability of their wholly-owned or controlled subsidiaries, and that corporate groups should maintain intragroup liability insurance coverage where proceeds are payable to tort victims who suffer harm. The legislative proposal is not a bright-line rule in that where the subsidiary company is not wholly-owned but controlled, the courts will be responsible for making a decision as whether or not to set aside the two fundamental principles of corporate law in order to hold a parent company liable. Since the courts will still be responsible for deciding whether to pierce the parent’s veil, there is always the potential risk of judicial discretion to be exercised by the courts. In exercising that discretion, this thesis suggests that the courts should abandon the normal presumption of non-liability in favour of parent companies and adopt the economic reality test when faced with veil piercing inquiry involving partly-owned/controlled subsidiaries.
The relationship between law and economic development continues to perplex generations of scholars. This thesis adds to the query by embracing the iterative relationship between legal systems and markets as postulated by Milhaupt and Pistor; thereby, departing from law and finance theory which argues that past adopted legal systems are crucial for economic development. Law and finance theory is criticized based on the causal and proxy indeterminacy of law in achieving economic development, its discrepancies with corporate law practice, and various incoherent claims on juries and law in the twenty-first century. Milhaupt and Pistor’s framework grounded on the organization of a nation’s legal system, the functions of law in support of capitalist activity, and a state’s political economy embodying the supply and demand of law is used to understand how law is wielded in Africa’s giant quest for development.Institutional autopsies are conducted on pivotal corporate governance crisis events in Nigeria’s financial and petroleum sectors—Nigeria’s 2009-2010 banking crisis and the case of Moni Pulo v Brass—to understand Nigeria’s legal system and likely path to variation. Nigeria is revealed to be a centralized legal system, where the principal role of law is to coordinate market activity and one in which personal relationships play a vital part in her governance structure. The autopsies show there is a growing role played by state approved actors resulting in increased centralized and coordinative features of Nigeria’s legal system. It is hoped that this work assists in understanding the dynamic relationship between law and economic development in developing economies and serves as a foundation for future research on Nigeria’s political economy.