Professor Irene-Marie Esser
- Professor of Corporate Law and Governance (School of Law)
Professor Irene-marié Esser graduated first in her class at Stellenbosch University, South Africa (2001). She received her LLM in Corporate Law from Aberdeen University (2003), on a scholarship, and her LLD degree from the University of South Africa (2008). She was a senior lecturer from 2005 until 2008 at the University of South Africa (Unisa) when she was promoted to Associate Professor. At the age of 30, in 2009, she was promoted to full professor in Corporate Law. She relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland during 2013. She continued to be a professor extraordinarius at Unisa, until 2019. During 2014/2015 she lectured at the University of Glasgow as well as Edinburgh University. She was appointed as a Visiting Professor at the Open University, United Kingdom from 2014-2017.
Professor Esser joined the Law School in September 2015 and is, since August 2019, a Professor of Corporate Law and Governance. She currently serves as the School of Law’s PGT Director as well as the ECDP Co-Ordinator. From September 2018 Prof Esser has served as one of three representatives from Social Sciences on the University’s Learning and Teaching Committee. Since 2020 Prof Esser is also an Extraordinary Professor at the Faculty of Law at Stellenbosch University.
She currently teaches Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility and Company Law at the University of Glasgow and supervises postgraduate research students in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Her research spans doctrinal and empirical approaches, covering the UK, EU and South Africa in the field of corporate governance, company law and corporate social responsibility.
Professor Esser is a member of the PRI Academic Forum as well as the Sustainable Market Actors Network & Daughters of Themis: International Network of Female Business Scholars. Professor Esser acted as an External Consultant to the King IV Committee on Corporate Governance in South Africa. Reference has been made to her work in the King IV Report on Corporate Governance following her inclusive stakeholder protection approach. They quoted directly from an article she co-published with Prof Jean du Plessis and also referred to work that she did with Prof Piet Delport.
Prof Esser is the current company law convener at the Society of Legal Scholars of the UK (https://www.legalscholars.ac.uk/).
Prof Esser received the prize (with the co-author) for the best article published during 2016 in the Journal of Contemporary Roman Dutch Law for ‘Shareholder Protection in Terms of the Companies Act 71 of 2008’. She also featured in the South African Financial Mail during 2018.
Professor Esser has presented a 3-5-day workshop at the University of Johannesburg on Board Governance since 2009. She is an examiner at ACCA on their South African Business law module. She is also on the editorial board of the European Business Law Review.
- Company Law
- Corporate Governance
- Corporate Social Responsibility
Esser, I.-M. and Delport, P.A. (2017) The protection of stakeholders: the South African social and ethics committee and the United Kingdom’s enlightened shareholder value approach: part 1. De Jure, 50(1), pp. 97-110. (doi:10.17159/2225-7160/2017/v50n1a6)
Esser, I.-M. , MacNeil, I. and Chalaczkiewicz-Ladna, K. (2018) Engaging stakeholders in corporate decision-making through strategic reporting: an empirical study of FTSE 100 companies. European Business Law Review, 29(5), pp. 729-772.
Esser, I.-M. (2011) Corporate social responsibility: a company law perspectives. South African Mercantile Law Journal, 23(3), pp. 317-335.
Esser, I.-M. (2017) Corporate governance: soft law regulation and disclosure - the cases of the United Kingdom and South Africa. In: du Plessis, J. J. and Low, C. K. (eds.) Corporate Governance Codes for the 21st Century: International Perspectives and Critical Analyses. Springer. ISBN 9783319518671
Esser, I.-M. and Du Plessis, J. (2007) The stakeholder debate and directors' fiduciary duties. South African Mercantile Law Journal, 19, pp. 346-363.
Esser, I.-M. (2009) Recognition of Various Stakeholder Interests in Company Management: Corporate Social Responsibility and Directors' Duties. Vdm Verlag Dr Müller: Saarbrücken. ISBN 9783639164121
Women in Research Award: Youngest staff member with a doctorate degree at Unisa (2009).
Unisa’s Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Research (2009).
National Research Foundation of South Africa, Thuthuka Grant (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010).
Various grants to conduct research received from the Research and Higher Degrees Committee of Unisa (2006 - current).
Research students under supervision
Abdulaziz Bin hagshah - 'The New Corporate Governance Regulatory Frameworks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Reality and Aspirations'
Sarah Deng - 'Legal Transplant as a Device of Legal Change in Transitional Economies: The Case of Importing Common Law-Style Corporate Fiduciary Duties into Contemporary China'
Jonathan Hardman - 'Default Rules in Scottish Companies: An Empirical Study'
NJ Moyo completed her PhD under Dr Esser's supervision at the University of South Africa during 2016 (Prof MK Havenga was the co-supervisor). The title of the thesis is 'Corporate governance - A critical analysis of the effectiveness of boards of directors in public entities in Zimbabwe'.
Snehita Singh - 'Corporate Social Responsibility, corporate governance, company law'
Professor Esser supervises PG students working mainly on company law, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility matters.
- Company Law
- Commercial Law
- Corporate Governance
- Corporate Social Responsibility
Consultation response to 'Consulting on a Revised UK Corporate Governance Code', Financial Reporting Council, February 2018. Read the response here: https://www.frc.org.uk/getattachment/81156e37-720e-4636-96d9-16a3da6be6b9/MacNeil,-Esser-and-Chalaczkiewicz-Ladna-respon;.aspx
External advisor to the King IV Corporate Governance Report, South Africa: https://www.iodsa.co.za/page/KingIV.
Invited to present a paper at the International Corporate Governance and Law Forum in Leeds during January 2018. Paper entitled “Disclosure vs Participation: Models of Stakeholder Representation in Corporate Decision-Making” (http://2018-leeds.icgl.org.au/)
Invited to attend a 1 day conference at Oxford University, Manchester College on “Corporate Groups – Facilitation and Control”, 11 January 2018 (https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/events/corporate-groups-facilitation-and-control).
Attended events on the UK corporate governance review at Cass Business School, London (March and June 2017) (https://www.cass.city.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2017/april/seminar-considers-uk-corporate-governance-reform and http://www.purposeofcorporation.org/en/news/6509--corporate-governance-and-reporting-event).
Attended an international conference on “Enforcing Shareholder Duties” 15 September 2017, University of Glasgow, UK.
Presented capacity building at various universities in India (in Delhi and Hyderabad) with Prof Iain MacNeil (October, 2017).
Invited to attend a Company Law Round Table with UK Company Law academics at Southampton University during June 2016.
Invited talk: “International Corporate Governance and Law” conference in Hong Kong during April 2016. I was one of 15 invited speakers from more than 8 countries.
I Esser "Legislative Response: The South African Social and Ethics Committee and the United Kingdom’s Enlightened Shareholder Value Approach" presented at the 19th Commonwealth Law Conference held in Glasgow during April 2015. (Invited paper)
I Esser "Share Ownership Structure and Corporate Law: The Cases of South Africa and the UK" at the Ius Commune Conference in Edinburgh (with David Cabrelli, University of Edinburgh) (Invited paper)
I Esser “The Enhancement of Shareholder and Stakeholder Interests in the New South African Companies Act” International Conference: “The Function of the Law before Crises; A Comparative Corporate Governance Exploration”, during December 2011 at Stellenbosch University (with the University of Maastricht) (Invited paper)