Principle of Separate Legal Personality

Principle of Separate Legal Personality

Separate Legal Personality

Concept developed in Company Law, relating to the legal status between a Company Limited by Shares and its owners. The Principle was first accepted in Salomon v Salomon, a landmark case which is often considered to have established one of the most important principles within Company Law; A Company is a distinct legal personality from that of its owners. Because of this Separate Legal Personality is also known as the Salomon Principle.

The ‘separate entity’ doctrine (that the company is an entity separate to its shareholders) established very early in Salomon’s case (Salomon v Salomon & Co [1897] AC 22).

Each regular individual has a lawful identity, importance it holds rights, commitments and obligations. At the point when a Company is consolidated, that is enrolled in the Companies Office and issued with a Certificate of Incorporation; it excessively has a legitimate identity. However a Company can’t work all alone, obliging human intercession to direct business for its sake. The guideline of Separate Legal Personality builds that a Company has lawful rights and commitments that are unique and separate from its parts (holders/shareholders). Moreover the benefits and obligations of a Company Limited by Shares have a place solely to the Company and its parts can’t be sought after as by and by obligated for the activities of the Company. This division of the Company from its parts is known as the Veil of Incorporation.


The guideline of Separate Legal Entity can been seen in play in the late Irish case Quigley Meats. The Plaintiff’s for this situation (the Quigley’s) supplied the Defendants with meat produce for their restaurant. The Quigley’s were of the feeling that they were managing the Defendant’s by and by, however instalments for produce were constantly made to the Quigley’s from a Company account. The Defendant’s got into some money related trouble and quit paying the Quigley’s for the produce. The Quigley’s then chosen to seek after the Defendant’s through the Courts for the unpaid bills. The Court at first found for the Quigley’s requesting the Defendants to pay the obligation of €26,000. However the respondent’s advanced contending that they couldn’t be discovered by and by at risk as the obligation was for their Company to pay. The High Court concurred with the Defendants because when they did pay the Quigley’s they had paid with checks which had the Company’s name printed on them, in this manner they should have realized that they were managing a restricted obligation organization and not people. (Quigley Meats Ltd v. Hurley [2011] IEHC 192)

Piercing the Corporate of Veil

The lodestar of organization law has remained the honesty of the different identity of the organization: the corporate cloak might be lifted in the most compelling of circumstances. The result is an absence of clarity in the exact lawful privileges of the shareholders and their connection with the governing body.

When to lift

The case law has showed that the courts are by and large hesitant to lift the corporate shroud. Yet, the points of confinement of a periodic choice of a court to lift the corporate shroud is not closed. It is, hence, hard to foresee the circumstances in which the courts will puncture the corporate shroud, and there is by all accounts an inclination to ‘rehash the wheel’ each one time it is contended.

Courts have approached veil–piercing cases in an ad hoc manner with underlying policy considerations in mind. As Rogers AJA confirmed in BriggsvJamesHardie&CoPtyLtd:

The threshold problem arises from the fact that there is no common, unifying principle, which underlies the occasional decision of courts to pierce the corporate veil. Although an ad hoc explanation may be offered by a court which so decides, there is no principled approach to be derived from the authorities…

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(Briggs v James Hardie & Co Pty Ltd & Ors (1989) 16 NSWLR 549 at 567)

When deciding to disregard the separate legal personality principle Jenkinson-J, in DennisWilcoxPtyLtdvFederalCommissionerofTaxation, stated that a court should do so,

“…only if [they] can see that there is, in fact or in law, a partnership between companies in a group, or that there is a mere sham or façade in which that company is playing a role, or that the creation or use of the company was designed to enable legal or fiduciary obligations to be evaded or a fraud to be perpetrated”

(Dennis Wilcox Pty Limited v Federal Commissioner of Taxation (1988) 79 ALR 267)


The corporate veil may be lifted where there has been an extortion or other break of the law. The extortion and sham contention alludes to the utilization of a partnership by the controller to avoid a lawful or guardian commitment, where the company is utilized as an issue to cover genuine commitments.

As the Full Federal Court noted in Donnelly-v-Edelsten “the contention [of fraud] is, obviously roundabout. It can just succeed if the contention of sham succeeds”. On the off chance that an organization is a “sham” or “veneer” then it has fused only to mask the truth of its operations or dodge commitments. (Donnelly v Edelsten (1994) 13 ACSR 196 at 256)

To penetrate the corporate shroud for misrepresentation, the organization “must have the plan to utilize the corporate structure as a part of such a route as to deny the offended party some for every current lawful right”. All the more particularly, the organization is consequently used in a way to evade a lawful commitment. To be clear, it is for the most part reasonable to structure organizations to dodge a future risk, for instance in a hazardous business wander that may come up short, however courts may not permit an organization to be structured to abstain from performing a current legitimate obligation.

In any case, such contentions can be scrutinized for dismissing the different element guideline. Concerning a “sham” enterprise, Windeyer J has held “if an organization is appropriately joined and enlisted under the Corporations Act and the best possible records are kept in due structure and the recommended returns made, it keeps on existing as an issue substance. In that sense it is a reality and not a sham“. (Peate v Federal Commissioner of Taxation (1964) 111 CLR 443 at 480)

Group Enterprise

Any uniqueness from the standard of independent corporate identity is prone to be joined by a recession of constrained corporate obligation. This is, maybe, most clear in a corporate gathering structure.

The gathering endeavour ground incorporates circumstances in which a corporate gathering is acting in such a way as to make every individual substance vague and, consequently, the corporate cloak is lifted to treat the guardian organization as subject for the demonstrations of the auxiliary. Figures that show that two or more organizations were occupied with a gathering venture include ;( Ramsay, I. “Piercing the Corporate Veil in Australia” (2001) 19 C&SLJ 250 at 257)

•There is an element of partnership or group accounting present;

•Obvious influence of control extending from the top of the corporate structure;

•The extent to which the companies were thought to be participating in a common enterprise with mutual advantages;

•The relationship between the two companies is that of parent and subsidiary;

•overlapping directors, officers, and employees,

•One company in the structure acts as agent for the controlling entity; and

•There is an element of sham or facade present, that is, the corporate structure is used to evade legal or fiduciary obligations.

As Rogers AJA affirmed in Briggs-v-James-Hardin-&-Co-Pt-Limited-&-Ors “… the recommendations… that the corporate shroud may be penetrated where one organization activities complete command and control over an alternate is altogether excessively short-sighted”. Rogers AJA went ahead to perceive that it is a business reality that a guardian organization as a rule does activity complete control over a backup, subsequently, uncovering the inborn blemish of a strict application of the different substance standard to corporate gathering. (BriggsvJamesHardie&CoPtyLimited&Ors (1989) 16 NSWLR 549)

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Commits a Tort

In spite of the fact that the courts have been more slanted to penetrate the corporate cover in contract claims, there are signs that courts are readied to lift the corporate cloak and make a guardian organization subject in connection to torts submitted by a gathering organization which includes:

(a)Cases of agency, partnership or trust between the subsidiary and parent company: Briggs v James Hardie & Co Pty Ltd (1989) 16 NSWLR 549; Spreag v Paeson Pty Ltd (1990) 94 ALR 674

(b)attribution of direct liability by reason of the parent company and subsidiary both owing a duty of care to the tort claimant according to the limiting tests of reasonable foreseeability and proximity, chiefly demonstrable by a level of actual control over day-to-day operations of the subsidiary (CSR Ltd V Wren (1998) Aust Tort Rep 81-461) akin to the subsidiary being a mere façade (James Hardie & Co Ltd v Hall (1998) 43 NSWLR 554 at 579-584)

Effects of Corporate Separate Personality

Transferable Shares

The way that an organization is lawfully separate from its parts encourages the exchange of shares. The issue of shares is viewed as an issue method for raising capital for the organization (albeit littler brokers are regularly pulled in by the idea of fuse just as an issue to ensure themselves from potential boundless obligation). The trading of shares on the open market additionally prompts straightforwardness since it goes about as an impetus for administration to lead the business in a sensible way. This straightforwardness empowers more prominent investigation by pariahs of the organization’s undertakings and diminishes the opportunity for deceitful conduct, along these lines enhancing the attractiveness of the shares. It additionally implies that financial specialists have the capacity get the imperative data they require keeping in mind the end goal to assess the organization before entering into business exchanges. From the organization’s perspective, on the other hand, this straightforwardness can regularly prompt divulgence of data that they would have liked to withhold and place them in a more helpless position with contenders.

Ownership of Property

Where an organization holds property in its name, this has a place singularly the organization and the shareholders have no restrictive rights (other than for the estimation of the shares they hold). This gives shareholders and workers more security than if a chief decided to leave his position and had the capacity authorize a deal and division of any organization property or resources he possessed. This position thusly makes the shareholders’ ventures more appealing and secure. Notwithstanding, this may be to the impediment of a merchant who possessed the organization property before joining yet neglected to accordingly dole out the protection approaches to the organization. This was delineated in Macaura v Northern Assurance Co wherein Mr Macaura had protected timber under his name and this was then decimated by a blaze. The insurance agency declined to pay out on Mr Macaura’s case, expressing that he had no insurable enthusiasm toward the timber as it was claimed by the organization. In the same way, a guardian organization does not have an insurable enthusiasm toward its auxiliary organizations, even where they are completely possessed by it.

Distinct legal identity

A standout amongst the most noteworthy impacts of corporate separate identity is that the organization expect a different character from that of its parts. Regardless of the fact that an organization is possessed by and large by one shareholder, the organization has a totally separate identity from that single person. This is affirmed by the main instance of Salomon v A. Salomon & Co Ltd in which the House of Lords held that the organization’s demonstrations were its demonstrations, not those of Mr Salomon by and by. As an issue, Mr Salomon was not generally subject for his organization’s obligations. It is important, then again, that the Court did perceive that there would be circumstances in which they would be arranged to move far from that standard and ‘lift the cover of fuse’ and discover people subject where they had acted insincerely, deceitfully or irrationally.

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Limited Liability

Because of the way that the organization is a different lawful individual, it takes after that its parts won’t for the most part be subject for its obligations and commitments. This gives the shareholders an extraordinary level of security, since it implies that they find themselves able to benefit from the accomplishments of the organization whilst being protected in the information that their individual risk is constrained to the estimation of the shares they have obtained. On the other hand it ought to be noted that those parts who take part in the administration of the organization won’t essentially be secured from individual obligation. Also, the idea of restricted risk may not be alluring to potential loan bosses who may require extra security for their credit.

Ability to sue and liability of be sued

The primary advantage to brokers of joining is the idea of restricted obligation; on the other hand, this can demonstrate to the impairment of outsider lenders who enter into exchanges with the organization. Whilst the leasers will have the capacity to sue the organization itself, they will most likely be unable to recoup their cash if the organization is wiped out. It ought to be noted additionally that an organization has the capacity sue its debt holders for non-instalment. So it is a lawful person that can both sue and be sued.

Problem with the Salomon Principle

The focal issue with the Salomon rule is a moral one. It is the backwards of the second advantage, talked about instantly above, when seen from the viewpoint of individuals managing the organization from the outside. In the event that Aron Salomon’s property is secured, then individuals managing the organization have just got the organization’s own particular resources accessible to them if the organization goes into indebtedness.

This implies that an ambitious person in the position of Aron Salomon may give less mind and regard for the need to arrange genuinely and reasonably with outsiders on the grounds that the business visionary confronts no extraordinary individual danger of misfortune, past injured pride and the trust of a beneficial business (aside from what is said beneath in regards to fake exchanging). Thus, different shareholders in an organization bear no individual danger of misfortune if the organization falls flat in light of the fact that the constrained risk which is allowed by our organization law by definition confines their individual liabilities. When we include the greater part of this together, we land at a position whereby the whole economy is inhabited by organizations whose shareholders and administration bear a minimal immediate moral obligation or misfortune if those organizations ought to fall flat. The morals of that economy get to be faulty if nobody confronts the danger of open finished, individual misfortune.


The impacts of corporate separate identity are expansive. An organization is viewed as an issue element in its own particular right and, in that capacity, its parts have constrained obligation for its obligations and commitments. The organization has the capacity own property in its own particular name and issue shares to raise capital. It has the capacity sue debt holders and likewise be sued by its leaders. At long last, a central normal for corporate separate identity is that of interminable progression, which brings about a continuation of the organization’s presence paying little respect to its parts.

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