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法律英语阅 读与翻译教程(28)

2.公司人格

2Corporate Personality

公司的一个 关键法律特征就在于其独立的法律人格。然而,英国法直到1895年才通过上 议院审理的“萨洛蒙诉萨 洛蒙公司案”确立了公司※※※ 具有独立的法律人格。

 

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.

  独立的 法律人格经常会产生意想不到的影响,在涉及较小的家族企业事尤为如此。1978年的一则判 例认为法院判给妻子要求其丈夫“公布(披露)财产 的命令“对其丈夫的 公司无效,因为该“公布财产令 ”中并未提及 丈夫的公司,丈夫的公司与丈夫是不同的。在另一起案件中,原告凭保险单提出赔偿之诉却败诉,原因是该案中被保险

人在投保前 已将木材(保险标的) 从他的名义下转移到一家他本人独自拥有的公司名下,这批木材在后来一场大火中损毁,因为该笔财产当时已属于公司而非他自己,他在这批木材上并无“可保利益”,所以他的 诉求不能获得支持。

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.

但独立的法 律人格在涉及税收规划问题上可以给予公司集团以巨大的灵活性,同时还可使跨国公司更好地处理其海外分支机构所产生的责任。例如,在美国子公司中遭受石棉毒害的受害人,不能因此对该公司的英国母公司提起侵权诉讼。

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,法院通常会“揭开公司的 面纱”,直接去寻 找公司背后的个人并判决他们承担责任。最为常见的例子有:

  1)公司只是 一个虚假的外壳(空壳公司);

  2)公司事实 上只不过是其股东或者控制人的代理人(公司沧为股东的工具)

  3)公司代表 已就某一行为承担个人责任;

  4)公司从事 欺诈行为或者其他刑事不法行为;

  5)法律有规 定的(如许多法域规定,公司违反了环境保护法的,股东需要承担责任);

6)在很多法域 ,公司如在已预见没有偿债能力的情况下仍然进行交易的,则可强制公司的董事对交易的损失承担个人责任。

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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