Topic: The incongruity between western legal duties and Chinese cultural values in Hong Kong : rethinking how directors of small family companies could be more effectively regulated\

Presenter: Mr Angus Young - PhD Candidate, TC Beirne School of Law

This thesis argues that incongruities between the law of directors' duties in China (Hong Kong) and the values driving Chinese small business result in a gap in the effectiveness of director regulation in China (Hong Kong). Whilst the law obliges all company directors to be accountable for their decisions and actions, the Chinese value system suggests an entirely different approach for corporate governance; one based on Confucian doctrines. The difference is important because as it affects nearly half a million small family companies in Hong Kong.

Currently, the law of directors' duties in Hong Kong are primarily English, having changed little since their introduction during the era of colonial administration. The duties are fiduciary in nature with the resulting agency and trustee obligations. There is current debate in Hong Kong on the need to modernise these laws, primarily to encourage offshore institutional investment, and to focus on enhancing accountability and promoting greater transparency. Whilst appropriate for larger and publicly listed companies in Hong Kong, it is a poor regulatory fit for small Chinese family companies which continue to be influenced by Chinese value system Confucian doctrines rather than the English-based legal system requirement. The thesis explores how the Confucian approach to governance with its paternalistic order and relational obligations departs from the English model. The two forms of normative ordering within the one jurisdiction is legal pluralism, and it is argued that the regulation of corporate governance in Hong Kong should also be pluralistic. A model to achieve this is proposed.

All welcome, no RSVP required.

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

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