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Does Law Matter? The Separation of Ownership and Control in the United Kingdom


  • Cheffins, Brian R


The corporate world today subdivides into rival systems of dispersed and concentrated ownership, with different corporate governance structures characterizing each. Various corporate governance experts have argued that ownership concentration is a consequence of poor legal protection of shareholders. The experience in the United Kingdom casts doubt, however, on the extent to which legal regulation matters in the corporate governance context. Developments in Britain suggest that a highly specific set of laws governing companies and financial markets do not have to be in place in order for dispersed share ownership and strong securities markets to develop. Instead, alternative institutional structures can perform the function that "law matters" advocates say the legal system needs to play. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Cheffins, Brian R, 2001. "Does Law Matter? The Separation of Ownership and Control in the United Kingdom," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 459-484, Part I Ju.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:30:y:2001:i:2:p:459-84
    DOI: 10.1086/322052

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul G. Mahoney, 2009. "The Development of Securities Law in the United States," Journal of Accounting Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 325-347, May.
    2. Ribstein Larry E., 2005. "Cross-Listing and Regulatory Competition," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 97-148, April.
    3. Priya P. Lele & Mathias M. Siems, 2009. "Shareholder Protection: A Leximetric Approach," Chapters, in: Thankom Gopinath Arun & John Turner (ed.),Corporate Governance and Development, chapter 10, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Randall Morck & Lloyd Steier, 2005. "The Global History of Corporate Governance: An Introduction," NBER Chapters, in: A History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers, pages 1-64, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Bhagat, Sanjai & Malhotra, Shavin & Zhu, PengCheng, 2011. "Emerging country cross-border acquisitions: Characteristics, acquirer returns and cross-sectional determinants," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 250-271, September.
    6. Turner, John D., 2017. "The development of English company law before 1900," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2017-01, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    7. John Armour & Simon Deakin & Prabirjit Sarkar & Mathias Siems & Ajit Singh, 2007. "Shareholder Protection and Stock Market Development: An Empirical Test of the Legal Origins Hypothesis," Working Papers wp358, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    8. David Chambers & Carsten Burhop & Brian Cheffins, 2016. "The Rise and Fall of the German Stock Market, 1870-1938," Working Papers 25, Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge, revised 21 Sep 2016.
    9. Janette Rutterford & Dimitris Sotiropoulos & Carry van Lieshout, 2015. "Individual investors and local bias in the UK, 1870-1935," Working Papers 15009, Economic History Society.
    10. Oehr, Tim-Frederik & Zimmermann, Jochen, 2012. "Accounting and the welfare state: The missing link," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 134-152.
    11. Chen, Zhiwu, 2003. "Capital markets and legal development: The China case," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 451-472.
    12. Armour, J. & Deakin, S. & Mollica, V. & Siems, M.M., 2010. "Law and Financial Development: What we are learning from time-series evidence," Working Papers wp399, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    13. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
    14. Graeme G. Acheson & Gareth Campbell & John D. Turner & Nadia Vanteeva, 2015. "Corporate ownership and control in Victorian Britain," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(3), pages 911-936, August.
    15. Gerner-Beuerle, Carsten, 2014. "Determinants of corporate governance codes," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 55828, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    16. Yeung Horace & Huang Flora Xiao, 2012. "Law and Finance: What Matters? Hong Kong as a Test Case," Asian Journal of Law and Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-30, April.
    17. Acheson, Graeme G. & Campbell, Gareth & Turner, John D., 2016. "Common law and the origin of shareholder protection," eabh Papers 16-03, The European Association for Banking and Financial History (EABH).
    18. Sebastian A.J. Keibek, 2016. "Using probate data to determine historical male occupational structures," Working Papers 26, Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge, revised 21 Mar 2017.
    19. Janette Rutterford & Dimitris P. Sotiropoulos & Carry van Lieshout, 2017. "Individual investors and local bias in the UK, 1870–1935," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1291-1320, November.
    20. Gerhard Schnyder & Mathias Siems & Ruth Aguilera & Centre for Business Research, 2018. "Twenty Years of 'Law & Finance': Time to Take Law Seriously," Working Papers wp501, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    21. Coyle, Christopher & Musacchio, Aldo & Turner, John D., 2019. "Law and finance in Britain c.1900," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 267-293, December.
    22. Marc Goergen & Christine A. Mallin & Eve Mitleton-Kelly & Ahmed Al-Hawamdeh & Iris H-Y Chiu, 2010. "Corporate Governance and Complexity Theory," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13927.
    23. Wenming Xu & Guangdong Xu, 2016. "Truth and Robustness in Cross-country Law and Finance Regressions: A Bayesian analysis of the Empirical “Law Matters†Thesis," Journal of Applied Finance & Banking, SCIENPRESS Ltd, vol. 6(6), pages 1-6.

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