Australian corporate regulation
The extent to which the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) can and does effectively regulate corporate misconduct is the focus of research by Dr Vicky Comino.
Her book Company Law Watchdog - ASIC and Corporate Regulation in this area comes at a time of heightened public interest in corporate regulation in Australia. This is in view of the many submissions made by individuals and groups to the current Senate inquiry into ASIC’s performance and the fact that in recent years, ASIC has brought a number of high profile cases –including the One.Tel, HIH and James Hardie cases – that have helped lift ASIC’s profile as Australia’s corporate cop. Reforms introduced in 1993 when the civil penalty regime came into operation were designed to enable ASIC to deal more effectively with corporate wrongdoing by reducing the role of the criminal law. Unfortunately, however, despite Parliament’s preference for civil, not criminal processes in civil penalty proceedings, the courts have treated civil penalties as quasi-criminal offences by imposing criminal procedural protections. This has created enforcement, evidential and procedural difficulties that are setting back ASIC’s attempts to use civil penalties for sanctioning.
Amongst other things, Vicky’s research calls for the enactment of legislation to resolve the procedural obstacles facing the use of civil penalties.