What Is Corporate Law?

Corporate law is the set of rules that govern how corporations can operate. They ensure that all businesses have a fair playing field. They also prevent large companies from monopolizing their markets.


It deals with issues such as the formation of a corporation, shareholders’ rights, and the board’s responsibilities. It also covers federal regulations that affect the operations of a corporation.

Formation of a corporation

Corporations are legal entities created to conduct business. They are governed by corporate law, which dictates their rights and responsibilities. In most countries, corporations can be for-profit or not-for-profit. In addition, they have a separate legal personality from their shareholders and owners, making them an attractive choice for investors. This distinct legal status allows corporations to apply for government contracts and grants, and it protects their shareholders’ personal assets from liability.

The first step in forming a corporation is filing articles of incorporation with the government. These documents lay out the corporation’s purpose, its products and services, and the names of its directors and shareholders. They also include the registered agent, a person or entity authorized to receive service of process and official correspondence. The next step is creating corporate bylaws, which outline internal company functions, such as meeting procedures and officer positions.

Unlike sole proprietorships and partnerships, corporations are taxed separately from their owners. The specific taxes a corporation pays depend on the state it operates in and its type of operation. In most cases, a corporation must obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS before beginning operations. Additionally, a corporation must open a bank account that is separate from its owners’ accounts, to protect personal assets from corporate liabilities. LegalZoom works with Bank of America to help our clients establish business checking accounts.

Shareholders’ rights

Shareholders’ rights are fundamental to a company’s success. They include the right to vote on critical corporate decisions, the right to receive dividends and interests, and the right to a proportional allocation of proceeds in the event that the company liquidates. These rights vary by state and country, so it’s important to research them before investing. In addition, shareholders have the right to file a lawsuit against a corporation or board members if they breach their duties or commit wrongful acts.

Some states have specific laws regarding shareholder’s rights, such as Minnesota which prevents unfair or prejudicial practices against minority shareholders. Other states, such as Texas, have statutes that allow shareholders to inspect the records of a company for “proper purposes.” This includes determining the propriety of a company’s dividend policy or verifying the accuracy of financial statements. However, shareholders should not use the information for improper purposes, such as uncovering trade secrets or compiling mailing lists for personal business.

Typically, a memorandum of association and articles of incorporation constitute a company’s constitution. The memorandum of association will usually establish which objects the company is meant to follow and specify the authorised share capital of the company. The articles of incorporation, on the other hand, will generally regulate the company’s internal affairs and management, such as procedures for general meetings and dividend entitlements.

Board of directors’ responsibilities

Board members are charged with the legal responsibility of making key decisions on behalf of their organizations. They must also act with care and diligence, in good faith and with the goal of protecting the company’s interests. Individual directors should avoid situations that put them in conflict with these interests, or they could be found to have breached their fiduciary duties. The board of directors typically works within committees, each with their own responsibilities and tasks. These can include determining the company’s strategic direction, negotiating mergers and acquisitions, resolving disputes with shareholders and approving the CEO’s salary. The board must also weigh in on matters such as repurchasing shares, declaring dividends and nominating future directors.

While the duties of a board of directors are numerous, it is important to understand how each relates to the overall purpose of the organization. In doing so, the board can avoid duplication of efforts and focus on those areas that are truly necessary to its success. For example, many boards will devise a schedule of duties that they reserve for themselves and those that should be devolved to senior management.

The board of directors is an elected group of people who represent the interests of a corporation’s shareholders. Its primary goals are to protect shareholders’ assets and ensure that the company has a sound return on investment. The board of directors meets regularly to create policies for overall company oversight and management. They also oversee the firm’s legal compliance and ensure that the firm is following all applicable laws.

Management of a corporation

The management of a corporation is a complex process. Shareholders elect a Board of Directors, which is responsible for oversight and financial decision-making. They also appoint Officers to manage the business on a day-to-day basis. The board owes a duty to shareholders to place the interests of the corporation above their own. This is not always easy, especially in a large publicly-held corporation with many shareholders.

The law governing corporations has two main parts: the country’s statutes and corporate bylaws. The statutes will usually set out which rules are mandatory and which are optional. For example, a law might require that a company’s legal name be stated in its articles of incorporation or that it have a registered agent. Other rules might include how much time the company has to file its annual report or whether or not the company will pay dividends to its shareholders.

Corporate law aims to respond to three endemic problems of opportunism. The first involves conflicts between managers and shareholders, or between controlling and non-controlling shareholders. The second problem is conflicts between a corporation and its creditors and other debtors. The third problem is conflicts between a corporation and its employees. Corporation law tries to prevent these conflicts by separating the ownership of a business from its actual operations. It also provides a mechanism for acquiring economies of scale through greater capacity to raise capital.