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Company Law

Company Law

Sample Answer 

Company Law

The merits of the liquidator’s arguments, in British company law, that Mr Lay cannot recover his loan from the company and that he should instead be made to contribute to the company’s debt on the ground that there is no difference between him and the company. Do not deal with any criminal element involved, (40 marks).

The claim by the liquidator to have Mr. Lay take responsibility for the company’s losses and that he should not seek to recover the money he invested in the company is null and void according to British company law. According to Lim (2014), Enron and Mr. Lay are distinct legal entities, with each one of them enjoying the rights of a legal entity. According to Wymeersch (2001), a company can easily be defined as a legal entity brought about by the laid down procedures in the British companies act 2006, with its evidence being the issuance of a certificate of incorporation, also, according to the decision in the Solomon vs. Solomon co. Ltd, the legal status of a company run by an individual can have the trader not only limit the liabilities of the company to the contributions he made to the business enterprise but also evade the serious risks to a great extent by subscribing for debentures of the company as opposed to shares he owns in the company (Rickford, 2005).

British company law allows the owner of a company to sue his company in case of a loss and eventual liquidation. In the case of Solomon vs. Solomon Company limited, the house of lords having been satisfied that Solomon Company limited formation was according to the company’s act, and therefore the founder is a separate entity and should not be viewed as an agent or controller of the company. According to Lim (2014), the company’s assets and liabilities belong to it; this gives Mr. Lay the legal right to recover the money owed to him by Enron. The implication of this law is to shield the company’s owner from the company’s liabilities in case one occurs.

Mr Louis Bourget’s and Mr Andrew Fastow’s duties as directors of Enron, explaining which duty, if any, they breached under the Companies Act 2006, (60 marks).

Mr.  Louis Bourget and Mr. Andrew Fastow are senior employees of the Enron company, and it required them to make reasonable decisions for the good of the company and therefore bear the responsibility for the company’s losses that occurred on their watch. The company’s act of 2006 stipulates that employees who occupy senior positions in the company where they are required to make standard, reasonable business decisions at their discretion can be held responsible for actions that go below expectations (Naniwadekar, 2008).

The law would have been lenient to the two individuals if their actions were done to benefit the business enterprise, especially where the owners of the company are directly involved. This was, however, not the case because Mr.  Louis Bourget’s decision to divert the company’s funds into his personal account and Mr. Andrew Factor’s use of the company’s funds to set up multiple business enterprises he used to defraud the company can be termed as actions amounting to criminal actions. This will, therefore, require that the two individuals be held responsible for their actions which led to financial losses to the company. The reason for this is that the two senior employees of the company acted fraudulently by intentional wrongdoing beyond the authority bestowed on them by the employer (Teklè, 2018). Liquidators, in this case, will be keen to pursue those responsible for the day-to-day running of the company’s affairs for the two to be charged for going against their principal responsibility to the affairs of the company (Lim, 2014).


Lim, E. (2014). Attribution in Company Law. The Modern Law Review, 77(5), pp.794-807.

Naniwadekar, M. (2008). The Law of Agency as applied in Company Transactions. European Company and Financial Law Review, 5(3).

Rickford, J. (2005). Fundamentals, Developments, and Trends in British Company Law – Some Wider Reflections Second Part: Current British Priorities and Wider Reflections. European Company and Financial Law Review, 2(1).

Teklè, T. (2018). Labour Rights and the Case Law of the European Court of Justice. European Labour Law Journal, 9(3), pp.236-262.

Wymeersch, E. (2001). Company Law in Europe and European Company Law. SSRN Electronic Journal.


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Coursework Week 8: Company Law

Documentary Film – Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

Film Summary

‘Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room’ is a 2005 documentary film detailing the biggest corporate scandal and collapse in American history. Enron is the story of insatiable greed made possible by the perpetrators’ ingenious ability to invent highly questionable methods to portray the company as a successful company and win the trust and admiration of a gullible public with devastating outcomes. The outcomes include: suicides by corporate executives, jail sentences, the dismissal of more than 20,000 employees and the loss of life savings by thousands more while the company’s top executive walk away with more than $1 billion. The company gave itself an appearance of profitability by inflating its profits and concealing its losses through corrupt bookkeeping practices, with the acquiescence of its highly paid firm of accountants, Arthur Anderson.

Within two years of its founding in 1985 by Kenneth Lay, the company becomes embroiled in a scandal after two of its traders begin betting on the oil market resulting in consistent profits. But betting and the publication of consistent profits, which very few questioned, would be the hallmark of the company right up to its collapse.

Enron’s ambition was to reinvent the energy industry as a market place where gas and electricity could be traded like shares and bonds. Put simply, Enron gambled in the energy market and manipulated it and other commodities and even considered ‘trading weather’ at some point.

Company Law

Company Law

Its executive officers were involved in the company’s unethical and often criminal activities. These include:

  • its founder Kenneth Lay who gambled away all of the company’s assets and reserves and encouraged the company’s president to gambled more in trading and also claimed that the company was the ‘best energy company in the world’ when he should have known that the company was bankrupt and had been worthless for years;
  • its president Louise Bourget who diverted the company’s profits into his personal bank account, destroyed the company’s record and gambled the company’s money;
  • its new CEO, Jeffrey Skilling who used an accounting tactic, mark-to-market, to record the company’s projected future profits as its current income as soon as a contract was signed regardless of the actual profit that the contract would generate;
  • Lou Pai, the elusive CEO of Enron Energy Services who had an obsession of gambling and visiting strip clubs using shareholder money and who left suddenly with a $250 million pay-out when his department was $1 billion in debt.
  • Andrew Fastow the Chief Financial Officer who breached his duty to Enron and its shareholders and made more than $45 million through the creation of a number of front companies designed to hide Enron’s losses.

By maintaining an appearance of profitability, the company’s executives were able to consistently reward themselves with huge bonuses.


Assume that Mr Kenneth Lay, the founder of Enron had provided a loan of £1 million to the company and that following the collapse of the company Mr Lay attempted to recover his money from the company but the liquidator resisted his claim on the ground that there was no difference between Mr Lay and the company since he had overall control over the company and that instead of trying to claim money from the company he should be made liable for its debts.

In the film, Mr Louis Bourget the president of Enron diverted the company’s profit into his personal account, destroyed the company’s records, and gambled the company’s money. Mr Andrew Fastow, the company’s Chief Financial Officer created a number of front companies which he uses to defraud Enron of tens of millions of dollars.

You are a legal team summoned to attend a case conference. The liquidator of the company has asked your team to prepare a legal analyses of the company law issues raised in the film and advise on:

  1. The merits of the liquidator’s arguments, in British company law, that Mr Lay cannot recover his loan from the company and that he should instead be made to contribute to the company’s debt on the ground that there is no difference between him and the company. Do not deal with any criminal element involved, (40 marks).
  2. Mr Louis Bourget’s and Mr Andrew Fastow’s duties as directors of Enron, explaining which duty, if any, they breached under the Companies Act 2006, (60 marks).

The answer should be between 750 – 1000 words long and should address all the issues raised in the question. The written answer carries 50% of the marks available for this case conference. The group presentation carries the remaining 50%. Marks may be deducted if you do not keep within the word margin. You are expected to word count your work and make a note of this at the end. You are reminded that you must support your answer with relevant company law cases and statutory provisions.

Assessment Rationale and Criteria

The assessment method for this part of the module is designed to meet the objectives of the module and facilitate its outcomes. The coursework will allow students to develop their research and data interpretation skills both as members of a team, in respect of the group presentation, and as individuals in respect of the written answers. The written part of the coursework will allow students to develop their legal writing skills. Students must ensure that they satisfy the assessment criteria their work will be marked against.

Grade A

  • Precise identification of the legal issue.
  • Precise identification of all the relevant areas of law.
  • Demonstration of a thorough knowledge and understanding of the relevant principles and case law including a critical analysis thereof.
  • Accurate application of law to question so as to address precisely legal issues raised therein.
  • Use of authority (that is, cases and statutes) to support the arguments advanced and conclusions reached.
  • Presentation of work which is legible.
  • Clarity of expression.

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