Shareholder Protection Across Time

82 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2015 Last revised: 16 May 2015

See all articles by Brian R. Cheffins

Brian R. Cheffins

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Steven A. Bank

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Harwell Wells

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: April 17, 2015

Abstract

This Article offers the first systematic attempt to measure the development of shareholder protection in the United States across time. Using three indices developed to measure the relative strength of shareholder protection across nations, we evaluate numerically the protections corporate and securities law have offered shareholders from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day. We do so by tracking the rights accorded to shareholders across time under three important sources of corporate law, Delaware and Illinois and the Model Business Corporation Act.

Our novel study yields novel results. First, we find that the protections afforded to shareholders by state corporation law have decreased since 1900 but only modestly so. This implies that, contrary to the assumptions of many scholars, state competition in corporate law has not significantly eroded shareholder rights. Second, when we add in measures that count protections provided by federal as well as state law, we find that shareholder protection improved across time. This implies that federal intervention has played a crucial and perhaps underappreciated role in shaping U.S. corporate law. Beyond its specific findings, this study illustrates how empirical analysis of legal trends provides scholars with a new means for analyzing and resolving fundamental questions in corporate law.

Keywords: corporate law, shareholder protection, leximetrics, regulatory competition

JEL Classification: G38, K22, N22

Suggested Citation

Cheffins, Brian R. and Bank, Steven A. and Wells, Harwell, Shareholder Protection Across Time (April 17, 2015). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 17/2015; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-24. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2595693 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2595693

Brian R. Cheffins (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom
+44 1223 330084 (Phone)
+44 1223 330055 (Fax)

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o ECARES ULB CP 114
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

Steven A. Bank

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
310-794-7601 (Phone)

Harwell Wells

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-1183 (Phone)
215-204-1185 (Fax)

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