James Hardie $80,000 penalty is comparable to a parking fine, says UWS law expert

Date: 24/08/2009

A leading expert in corporate law and governance from the University of Western Sydney is available for media comment on the recent penalties imposed on the James Hardie directors and executives.

Professor Michael Adams is Head of the School of Law at UWS, and for 25 years has conducted research into corporate law in Australia, Europe, North America and Asia.

After following the James Hardie case closely over the years, Professor Adams says the $80,000 fine imposed on James Hardie Industries for breaching corporations' law is comparable to a parking fine in terms of the company's size and ability to profit.

While the penalties seem extremely low, Professor Adams maintains the recent outcome is still very important in terms of defining the legal duties of executives and their responsibility to explain important and complex transactions - including professional reports - to all non-executive directors.

Cases such as James Hardie prove that the courts are sending out a very strong signal that high standards of professionalism are expected from large listed companies. Unfortunately, penalties like the ones imposed on the James Hardie directors and executives do not act as a deterrent for poor corporate governance or corporate social responsibility practices.

Professor Adams is an internationally recognised specialist in corporate law, governance, securities markets regulation and legal education. He recently completed an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded project on the corporate governance of boards of directors in Australia, in conjunction with the law firm Dibbs Abbott Stillman, and the Centre for Corporate Governance at the University of Technology, Sydney



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Kristy Gleeson
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