Economic theory informing approaches to phoenix activity in small business: A neo-Schumpeterian analysis

Matthew, Anne F. (2016) Economic theory informing approaches to phoenix activity in small business: A neo-Schumpeterian analysis. In Corporate Law Teachers Association Conference 2016: Enduring Issues in, and Reflections on, Corporate Law and Policy over the Past 25 years, 31 January 2016 - 2 February 2016, University of N.S.W, Sydney, N.S.W.

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Abstract

The adequacy and efficiency of existing legal and regulatory frameworks dealing with corporate phoenix activity have been repeatedly called into question over the past two decades through various reviews, inquiries, targeted regulatory operations and the implementation of piecemeal legislative reform. Despite these efforts, phoenix activity does not appear to have abated. While there is no law in Australia that declares ‘phoenix activity’ to be illegal, the behaviour that tends to manifest in phoenix activity can be capable of transgressing a vast array of law, including for example, corporate law, tax law, and employment law. This paper explores the notion that the persistence of phoenix activity despite the sheer extent of this law suggests that the law is not acting as powerfully as it might as a deterrent. Economic theories of entrepreneurship and innovation can to some extent explain why this is the case and also offer a sound basis for the evaluation and reconsideration of the existing law.

The challenges facing key regulators are significant. Phoenix activity is not limited to particular corporate demographic: it occurs in SMEs, large companies and in corporate groups. The range of behaviour that can amount to phoenix activity is so broad, that not all phoenix activity is illegal. This paper will consider regulatory approaches to these challenges via analysis of approaches to detection and enforcement of the underlying law capturing illegal phoenix activity.

Remedying the mischief of phoenix activity is of practical importance. The benefits include continued confidence in our economy, law that inspires best practice among directors, and law that is articulated in a manner such that penalties act as a sufficient deterrent and the regulatory system is able to detect offenders and bring them to account. Any further reforms must accommodate and tolerate legal phoenix activity, at least to some extent. Even then, phoenix activity pushes tolerance of repeated entrepreneurial failure to its absolute limit. The more limited liability is misused and abused, the stronger the argument to place some restrictions on access to limited liability. This paper proposes that such an approach is a legitimate next step for a robust and mature capitalist economy.

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ID Code: 92453
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: phoenix activity, phoenixing, corporate law, corporations, limited liability, Schumpeter, ASIC
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Corporations and Associations Law (180109)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Commercial & Property Law Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 The Author
Deposited On: 31 Jan 2016 22:57
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2016 23:53

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