A Comparative Analysis of Directors' Duty of Care, Skill and Diligence in South Africa and in Australia

Acta Juridica, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2010

15 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2015

See all articles by Jean Du Plessis

Jean Du Plessis

Deakin University, Geelong, Australia - Deakin Law School

Date Written: October 26, 2010

Abstract

The South African and Australian law regarding directors' duty of care, skill and diligence were influenced considerably by English precedent of the late 1800s and early 19005. Originally both jurisdictions adopted a conservative approach towards directors' duty of care, skill and diligence. This resulted in very low standards of care, skill and diligence expected of directors. In Australia, the standards of care and diligence expected of directors changed drastically with the case of Daniels v Anderson, where objective standards were used to determine a breach of directors' duty of care and diligence, and when objective standards of care and diligence were introduced in Australian corporations legislation. In this article it is submitted that if the opportunity arose for a South African court to consider whether a director is in breach of his or her common law duty of care, skill and diligence, the form of fault that will be required will be negligence as judged against the standards of a reasonable person. This means that in actual fact objective standards of care and diligence are expected of directors in South Africa. Although section 76(3) of the South African Companies Act 71 of 2008 does not introduce purely objective standards of care, skill and diligence, the section is defended in this article. It is pointed out that encouraging emerging entrepreneurs to become directors of South African companies provides justification for keeping subjective elements as part of the test to determine whether a director was in breach of his or her statutory duty of care, skill and diligence.

Suggested Citation

Du Plessis, Jean, A Comparative Analysis of Directors' Duty of Care, Skill and Diligence in South Africa and in Australia (October 26, 2010). Acta Juridica, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2635291

Jean Du Plessis (Contact Author)

Deakin University, Geelong, Australia - Deakin Law School ( email )

221 Burwood Highway
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Burwood, Victoria 3125, Victoria 3125
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