Critically discuss the legal relevance of the enlightened shareholder concept.
In 1998, there were several calls by various agencies and stakeholders for the UK company law to be reviewed as it was considered to be overly based on common law (Lowry and Dignam, 2006). This call was mainly led by the Department of Trade and Industry which put forward a proposal, which was later considered by the Company Law Review Steering Group (CLRSG). Going into parliament in November 2005 as the Company Law Reform Bill, there was a passage into what is now known as the Company Law Act 2006. Even though enshrined with several provisions and regulations, one aspect of the Company Law Act 2006 that has generated a lot of public, academic and professional debate and discourse is S 172 CA 2006, which touches on the duties of directors. Theoretically, S 172 CA 2006 has been said to promote what is now known as enlightened shareholder (Kraakman et al., 2009). This paper there seeks to critically discuss the legal relevance of the enlightened shareholder concept in relation to what used to exist before the S 172 CA 2006.
The concept of enlightened shareholder became part of public, academic and business discourse starting from the passage of the Company Law Act 2006 (Lowry and Dignam, 2009). Since then, there have been various interpretations for the term. In a much generalised framework of discourse, the enlightened shareholder concept can be said to be an approach to corporate governance whereby the role and place of the shareholder has been redefined in a more elaborate and expanded manner (Sealy and Worthington, 2010). By the use of the term approach, reference is being made to the fact that the enlightened shareholder concept has become a way of corporate life which entails a set of conduct and actions that must be exhibited or put up to justify the execution of the concept (Micklethwait and Adrian, 2003).