Who’s in Charge?

(6 pages)
August, 2004

Daniel Bennett with Helena Paul

For Programme on Corporations, Law and Democracy - Guest Paper - Original paper from 1998

Corporations are treated as if they are people by the law. The first Corporations were charities. The first Corporations to act for commercial ends did so fraudulently. The State (through the Government and the Courts) has

  1. abandoned rules which forbade the creation and continuance of Corporations that acted in a manner that caused the public harm;
  2. abandoned state control over the types of business operation that could become Corporations;
  3. restricted and then abolished the right of anyone who is not the "Corporation" to challenge the right of the Corporation to take various courses of action; and
  4. transferred from the Government to the Courts and then to the Directors of the Corporation itself the final say over what any Corporation has the power to do. This has allowed Directors of Corporations knowingly to cause harm to the public in the pursuit of profit, knowing that the Corporate form protects them from legal responsibility for their actions. Shareholders, with full knowledge of the harm, can invest without fear of being found legally responsible.