Kent Law School

Critical perspectives research led teaching


profile image for  Paddy Ireland

Paddy Ireland

Professor of Law

Kent Law School


Paddy's research interests include

  • Historical development of company law
  • Corporate governance and theory
  • Law and neoliberalism
  • Critical legal theory

Major research project

History of English Company Law and Neoliberalism.

Research Areas:
Critical Commercial Law and Business Law and Regulation, Law and Political Economy, Legal Theories and Philosophy

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

    Ireland, Paddy (2011) Law and the Neoliberal Vision: Financial Property, Pension Privatization and the Ownership Society. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 62 (1). pp. 1-32. ISSN 0029-3105.

    Ireland, Paddy (2010) Limited Liability, Rights of Control and the Problem of Corporate Irresponsibilty. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34 (5). pp. 837-856. ISSN 0309-166X.


    There has long been a tendency to see the corporate legal form as presently constituted as economically determined, as the more or less inevitable product of the demands of advanced technology and economic efficiency. Through an examination of its historical emergence, focusing in particular on the introduction of general limited liability and the development of the modern doctrine of separate corporate personality, this paper takes issue with this view, arguing that the corporate legal form was, and is, in large part a political construct developed to accommodate and protect the rentier investor. It is, moreover, a construct which institutionalises irresponsibility. Against this backdrop different ways of trying to resolve the problem of corporate irresponsibility are explored. The key, the paper suggests, is to be found in decoupling the privilege of limited liability from rights of control.

    Ireland, Paddy (2009) Financialization and Corporate Governance. Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 60 (1). pp. 15-34. ISSN 0029-3105.


    It used to be thought that what we now call ‘corporate governance’ was a rather complex affair. Which models of the corporation and corporate governance were productively superior? Which most encouraged research and development and investment in new technologies? Which best contributed to job satisfaction, to social cohesion and to the realisation of a ‘good life’? In the 1970s and 80s, as the developed capitalist world lurched from one economic crisis to another, many commentators came to believe that the more-stakeholder-friendly models of the corporation found in Germany and Japan were not only socially more cohesive than their more shareholder-oriented counterparts, but economically more efficient. Some continued to make this argument well into the 1990s. In 1992, for example, one of America’s most influential management writers, Michael Porter, argued that American corporate ownership and governance structures were seriously defective, prioritising short-term shareholder returns over long-term productive investment. In the UK commentators like the business economist John Kay were making very similar cases for the adoption of a conception of the corporation as a social or quasi-social institution.

Book Sections
Total publications in KAR: 25 [See all in KAR]
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Undergraduate module

Company Law and Capitalism (LW520)
Postgraduate module

Corporate Governance (LW899)


Corporate Governance, Corporate Theory; Law and Neoliberalism.

Currently Supervising

M Mailly: MPhil "European insolvency law and group companies: French English interpretation of the Council Regulation No 1346/2000"

R Pillay: PhD "From rhetoric to reality: corporate social responsibility - the Mauritian perspective"

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Professional Societies



Co-director of research

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Last Updated: 20/08/2013