Professor Stephen Bottomley FAAL

BA LLB (Hons) (Macq.); LLM (UNSW)
+61 2 6125 4125
Room 116

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Research Centre


Professor of Commercial Law, Stephen Bottomley is an expert in corporate law with particular emphasis on on corporate governance. His main areas of research interest are corporate governance, and law and regulation. He has also published in the areas of corporate theory, corporate regulation and government-owned enterprises.

His 2008 book, The Constitutional Corporation: Rethinking Corporate Governance was awarded the Hart Socio-Legal Book Prize for outstanding piece of socio-legal scholarship in the same year. Amongst his publications, Stephen is the co-author of Contemporary Australian Corporate Law (2018, Cambridge University Press), Law in Context (2011, 4th edn, Federation Press), and Directing the Top 500 - Corporate Governance and Accountability in Australian Companies (1993, Allen and Unwin). Stephen’s article “The Notional Legislator: The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s Role as a Law-Maker” (2011) 39 Federal Law Review 1, was awarded the 2011 Zines Prize for Excellence in Legal Research.

Stephen was Dean of the ANU College of Law from 2013 to 2017, prior to which he held positions as Head of School and Deputy Dean in the College.

Recent news

Professor Stephen Bottomley, Mary Spiers Williams and Professor Kim Rubenstein at the 2017 ANU Staff Excellence Awards
Awards season is underway at the Australian National University and many of our colleagues in the ANU College of Law have been recognised for the important contribution they make.
Professor Stephen Bottomley and Di Stewart visit the 2017 ANU College of Law renovation site.
The iconic ANU College of Law building is undergoing a substantial renovation.
ANU Law has launched the Unrequired Reading List, a curated list of books, films, texts and artworks intended to complement students’ study of the law.
Kylie Beutel
Third-year Arts/Law student Kylie Beutel takes part in the ACT Supreme Court Indigenous Mentoring Program.

In the Media

Stephen Bottomley On Campus
Stephen Bottomley Australian Financial Review
Stephen Bottomley quoted in PS News
Stephen Bottomley comments in Voice of America

Past events

Book Cover
6.00PM to 7.00PM Book launch
  • Julian Burnside
  • Professor Simon Rice OAM
  • Professor Stephen Bottomley


In Watching Out, a successor volume to his best-selling Watching Brief, noted barrister and human-rights advocate Julian Burnside explains the origins of our legal system, looks at the way it operates in practice, and points out ways in which does and doesn't run true to its ultimate purposes. Rich with fascinating case studies, and eloquent in its defence of civil society, Watching Out is a beacon of legal liberalism in an intemperate age.

San Francisco Skyline
6.30PM to 8.30PM Reception
  • Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian P. Schmidt AC

Join the University for the 2017 San Francisco ANU Alumni and Friends Reception hosted by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian P Schmidt AC. Professor Stephen Bottomley, Dean ANU College of Law, will be in attendance to meet ANU Law alumni.

Brooklyn Bridge and Skyline
6.30PM to 8.30PM Reception
  • Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian P. Schmidt AC

Join the University for the 2017 New York ANU Alumni and Friends Reception hosted by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian P Schmidt AC. Professor Stephen Bottomley, Dean ANU College of Law, will be in attendance to meet ANU Law alumni.

Image of Washington DC
6.30PM to 8.00PM Reception

Join the University for the 2017 Washington DC ANU Alumni and Friends Reception. Professor Stephen Bottomley, Dean ANU College of Law, will be in attendance to meet ANU Law alumni.

Please note, only a small selection of recent publications and activities are listed below.

Research biography

Stephen's main areas of research interest are corporate governance and law and regulation. His current research is on the role of shareholders in corporate governance, focusing on the question of shareholder responsibility. He is also investigating the role of shareholder advisory resolutions in achieving better corporate governance outcomes. A separate project involves using cartography as a device to explain the nature of corporate laws and regulation.

Currently supervising

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    Topic: Congruent Regulation: Designing the Optimal Australian Utility Regime
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    Topic: Reconceptualising the National Security Regulation of Chinese Central State-owned Companies' Investment in Australian Critical Infrastructure Assets

Current courses

Year Course code Course name
2019 LAWS4237
Class #9553
Financial Markets and Takeovers

Philosophy & approach

Teaching corporate law in an ethos of social justice

The ANU College of Law commits itself to an ethos of striving for social justice. It would be fair to say that in discussions about social justice and corporations, the corporations are usually cast as ‘the dark side’. They are, it tends to be assumed, a source of social justice problems rather than solutions.

To be fair again, there is a lot that corporations have to answer for, and it is easy to end the discussion right there: corporations are bad (and what does that say about corporate lawyers?) so in our efforts to achieve social justice goals such as fairness, equity, and access let’s direct our attention elsewhere, or simply take an uncompromising stance against corporations.

That would be a big mistake. I don’t think that any serious progress can be made with a social justice agenda unless it includes serious engagement with and understanding of the corporate sector. That is one of my key motivations for teaching and researching corporate law.

This is not just a simple strategy of ‘know thy enemy’ (for one thing, it is an over-simplification to paint all corporations as ‘the enemy’). My belief, instead, comes from thinking about the ‘social’ in ‘social justice’. As I never tire of telling corporate law students at the start of their Corporations Law course, corporations are one of the most – if not the most – significant social (and, of course, economic and political) actors in our society. Corporate law is not just a branch of business law – it is the law that governs a major form of social organisation. Corporate lawyers need to understand that, and so do non-corporate lawyers (by which I mean lawyers who are not corporate lawyers, as well as people who are not lawyers at all).

How ever one defines ‘social justice’, it must be concerned with the responsible exercise of power in society. By ‘responsible’ I mean open, answerable, other-regarding and non-capricious. The exercise of corporate power, as much as government power, must respond to these criteria.

Corporate lawyers who are informed about social justice debates and issues can, I hope, do much to ensure that corporations – and their directors and shareholders - exercise their power responsibility. And social justice lawyers and activists who are informed about corporations and corporate law will have a more finely-tuned appreciation about what can legitimately or practicably be asked of corporations.


Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team