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法律英語閱讀與翻譯教程(28)

2.公司人格

2,Corporate Personality

公司的一個關鍵法律特征就在于其獨立的法律人格。然而,英國法直到1895年才通過上議院審理的“薩洛蒙訴薩洛蒙公司案”確立了公司具有獨立的法律人格。

 

One of the key legal features of corporations is their separate legal personality, also known as”personhood” or being”artificial persons”. However , the separate legal personality was not confirmed under English law until 1895 by the House of Lords in Salomon v. Salomon& Co.,Ltd.

  獨立的法律人格經常會產生意想不到的影響,在涉及較小的家族企業事尤為如此。1978年的一則判例認為法院判給妻子要求其丈夫“公布(披露)財產的命令“對其丈夫的公司無效,因為該“公布財產令”中并未提及丈夫的公司,丈夫的公司與丈夫是不同的。在另一起案件中,原告憑保險單提出賠償之訴卻敗訴,原因是該案中被保險

人在投保前已將木材(保險標的)從他的名義下轉移到一家他本人獨自擁有的公司名下,這批木材在后來一場大火中損毀,因為該筆財產當時已屬于公司而非他自己,他在這批木材上并無“可保利益”,所以他的訴求不能獲得支持。

Separate legal personality often has unintended consequences, particularly in relation to smaller, family companies. In a case of 1978 it was held that a discovery order obtained by a wife against her husband was not effective against the husband’s company as it was not named in the order and was separate and distinct from him. And in another case, a claim under an insurance policy failed where the insured had transferred timber from his name into the name of a company wholly owned by him, and it was subsequently destroyed in a fire; as the property now belonged to the company and not to him, he no longer had an”insurable interest”in it and his claim failed.

但獨立的法律人格在涉及稅收規劃問題上可以給予公司集團以巨大的靈活性,同時還可使跨國公司更好地處理其海外分支機構所產生的責任。例如,在美國子公司中遭受石棉毒害的受害人,不能因此對該公司的英國母公司提起侵權訴訟。

However , separate legal personality does allow corporate groups a great deal of flexibility in relation to tax planning, and also enables multinational companies to manage the liability of their overseas operations. For instance, victims of asbestos poisoning at the hands of an American subsidiary could not sue the English parent in tort.

  在一些特定情形下,法院通常會“揭開公司的面紗”,直接去尋找公司背后的個人并判決他們承擔責任。最為常見的例子有:

  1)公司只是一個虛假的外殼(空殼公司);

  2)公司事實上只不過是其股東或者控制人的代理人(公司滄為股東的工具);

  3)公司代表已就某一行為承擔個人責任;

  4)公司從事欺詐行為或者其他刑事不法行為;

  5)法律有規定的(如許多法域規定,公司違反了環境保護法的,股東需要承擔責任);

6)在很多法域,公司如在已預見沒有償債能力的情況下仍然進行交易的,則可強制公司的董事對交易的損失承擔個人責任。

There are certain specific situations where courts are generally prepared to “pierce the corporate veil”, to look directly at, and impose liability directly on the individuals behind the company. The most commonly cited examples are:

a)where the company is a mere facade;

b)Where the company is effectively just the agent of its members or controllers;

c)Where a representative of the company has taken some personal responsibility for an action;

d)Where the company is engaged in fraud or other criminal wrongdoing;

e)Where permitted by statute(for example,many jurisdictions provide for shareholder liability where a company breaches environmental protection laws);

 

 

 

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