Professor Stephen Bottomley FAAL

Professor and Dean
BA LLB (Hons) (Macq.); LLM (UNSW)
+61 2 6125 4125
Room 205

home icon ANU College of Law, Bld 5, Fellows Rd, Acton ACT 2601

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Research Theme

Research Centre

Biography

Dean of the College of Law, Stephen Bottomley is an expert in commercial law.
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. The book was described by reviewers at the University of London as “a most valuable and comprehensive response to economic contractualism providing a new normative framework to continue the international debate on corporate governance.”
Stephen is also the co-author of Corporations Law in Australia (2002, 2nd edn), Law in Context (2011, 4th edn), and Directing the Top 500 - Corporate Governance and Accountability in Australian Companies (1993).
His main areas of research interest are corporate governance, and law and regulation and he has also been published in the areas of corporate theory, corporate regulation and government-owned enterprises.
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.

Appointments

Dean, ANU College of Law (from January 2013)

Recent news

20
Mar
2017
George Brandis
Deans of over thirty Australian law schools have called on the Federal Government to reverse plans to cut funding to community legal centres.
03
Mar
2017
Prizes
ANU College of Law has awarded some of the top students in its cohort at the annual Prizes Ceremony.
16
Feb
2017
Officials from ACT Supreme Court, ANU College of Law and UC School of Law and Justice
The ACT Bar Association has entered into a partnership that aims to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) law students greater opportunities to work with the Courts and senior members of the ACT legal profession.
13
Feb
2017
ANU College of Law
Three members of the ANU Law Jessup team have received individual awards after a superb effort that saw the team make it to the quarter-finals in the most highly regarded competition between law schools from across Australia.

In the Media

20
Mar
2017
Stephen Bottomley Australian Financial Review
10
Mar
2016
Stephen Bottomley quoted in PS News
2
Sep
2015
Stephen Bottomley comments in Voice of America

Past events

22
Jun
2017
London
6.00PM to 8.30PM Reception
  • Professor Stephen Bottomley

Professor Stephen Bottomley, Dean of the ANU College of Law, invites you to the ANU Law London Alumni Reception for alumni living and working in the United Kingdom.

02
Mar
2017
Event image
5.15PM to 7.30PM Celebration
  • Prof Stephen Bottomley
  • A/Prof Amelia Simpson

The ANU College of Law hosts its annual Prizes Ceremony which acknowledges the achievements of our students and the contribution and support of our donors.

02
Dec
2016
Professor Michael Coper
12.00AM Conference

A conference in honour of Professor Michael Coper.

17
Oct
2016
Skyline of Singapore
6.30PM to 8.00PM Reception
  • Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian P Schmidt AC

Join the University for the 2016 Hong Kong 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. RSVP by Friday 30 September 2016.

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

Research biography

Dean of the College of Law, Stephen Bottomley is an expert in commercial law. 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.

The book was described by reviewers at the University of London as “a most valuable and comprehensive response to economic
contractualism providing a new normative framework to continue the international debate on corporate governance.”

Stephen is also the co-author of Corporations Law in Australia (2002, 2nd edn), Law in Context (2011, 4th edn), and Directing the
Top 500 - Corporate Governance and Accountability in Australian Companies (1993).

His main areas of research interest are corporate governance, and law and regulation and he has also been published in the areas
of corporate theory, corporate regulation and government-owned enterprises.

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.

Currently supervising

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.

Books

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