The Beginning of History for Corporate Law: Corporate Government, Social Purpose and the Case of Sutton’s Hospital (1612)

57 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2022

Date Written: April 5, 2022

Abstract

This paper explores the history of corporate law through the Case of Sutton's Hospital. The case is among the oldest still-cited cases in Anglo-American corporate law and contains the oft-quoted definition that a corporation is “… invisible, immortal, and rests only in intendment of law." The article uses new sources to investigate the case to suggest how the history of corporate law can be rewritten, and explains the linkages between corporations and social purpose during the period of special incorporation. By doing so, the article highlights the importance of cultural and religious contexts to early Anglo-American corporate law and urges the crucial importance of 19th century fission, or the split of corporations into for- and non-profit entities.

Keywords: CSR, corporate law, social purpose, history of corporate law, history of CSR, business and society

JEL Classification: N43, Z12, B11, L30

Suggested Citation

Chan Smith, David, The Beginning of History for Corporate Law: Corporate Government, Social Purpose and the Case of Sutton’s Hospital (1612) (April 5, 2022). Seattle University Law Review, Vol. 45, No. 2, Forthcoming 2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4076229 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4076229

David Chan Smith (Contact Author)

Wilfrid Laurier University ( email )

75 University Avenue W
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5
Canada
5198840710 (Phone)

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