Books  Sustainable Development  Economics, Business & Industry  Business & the Environment 

Company Law and Sustainability: Legal Barriers and Opportunities

Unprecedented comparative analysis of company law will appeal to those interested in the legal infrastructure of business and how that relates to the impact of business on society
Questions the legal-economic postulates on which our current economic regimes are based on by challenging conventional wisdom about the significance of shareholders
Critiques the existing (largely voluntary) movements for corporate social responsibility and socially responsible investment, and highlights their inadequacies in leveraging significant change in business behaviour

By: Beate Sjåfell (Editor), Benjamin J Richardson (Editor)

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | May 2015 | #219704 | ISBN-13: 9781107043275
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NHBS Price: £81.99 $100/€92 approx

About this book

This investigation of the barriers to and opportunities for promoting environmental sustainability in company law provides an in-depth comparative analysis of company law regimes across the world. The social norm of shareholder primacy is the greatest barrier preventing progress, and it also helps explain why voluntary action by companies and investors is insufficient. By deconstructing the myth that shareholder primacy has a legal basis and challenging the economic postulates on which mainstream corporate governance debate is based, Company Law and Sustainability reveals a surprisingly large unexplored potential within current company law regimes for companies to reorient themselves towards sustainability. It also suggests possible methods of reforming the existing legal infrastructure for companies and provides an important contribution to the broader debate on how to achieve sustainability.


1. Capitalism, the sustainability crisis and the limitations of current business governance Benjamin J. Richardson and Beate Sjåfjell
2. Corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability David Millon
3. Shareholder primacy: the main barrier to sustainable companies Beate Sjåfjell, Andrew Johnston, Linn Anker-Sørensen and David Millon
4. The role of board directors in promoting environmental sustainability Blanaid Clarke
5. Accounting, auditing and reporting: supporting or obstructing the sustainable companies objective? Charlotte Villiers and Jukka Mähönen
6. Financial markets and socially responsible investing Benjamin J. Richardson
7. Limits to corporate reform and alternative legal structures Carol Liao
8. The future for company law and sustainability Beate Sjåfjell and Benjamin J. Richardson

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Beate Sjåfjell heads the international network of scholars in the Sustainable Companies Project, on which much of the groundbreaking research in this book is based. Professor Sjåfjell is also the head of the University of Oslo's research group Companies, Markets, Society and the Environment ( as well as of its European Law Network.

Benjamin J. Richardson is Professor of Environmental Law at the Faculty of Law and Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania. His teaching and scholarship covers climate change law, socially responsible investment, corporate social responsibility, and Aboriginal legal issues.

- Benjamin J. Richardson
- Beate Sjåfjell
- David Millon
- Andrew Johnston
- Linn Anker-Sørensen
- Blanaid Clarke
- Charlotte Villiers
- Jukka Mähönen
- Carol Liao

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