Professor Irene-Marie Esser
- Professor of Corporate Law and Governance (School of Law)
Professor Irene-marié Esser is a Professor of Corporate Law and Governance and Deputy-Director of Postgraduate Teaching at the University of Glasgow as well as the Early-Career Co-Ordinator at the Law School. She also served as a Professor Extraordinarius at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and was, until 2017, a Visiting Professor at the Open University, UK. Since 2020 she is an Extraordinary Professor at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. She has been in academia for 15 years and was admitted as an Attorney of the High Court of South Africa in 2005. In South Africa she was Professor and Co-Subject Head of Corporate Law at UNISA until March 2013, when she relocated, with her family, to Edinburgh, Scotland. Irene-marié obtained her LLB at Stellenbosch University (2001, first in her class), her LLM at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland (2003) and her LLD at UNISA (2008). She is the Company Law Convener for the Society of Legal Scholars. 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 from two articles that she co-authored with other academics. 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.
Prof Esser is part of the Corporate and Financial Law research group.
- Company Law
- Corporate Governance
- Corporate Social Responsibility
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. , MacNeil, I. and Chalaczkiewicz-Ladna, K. (2020) Engaging stakeholders in corporate decision-making through strategic reporting: an empirical study of FTSE 100 companies (Part 2). European Business Law Review, 31(2), pp. 209-242.
MacNeil, I. and Esser, I.-M. (2022) The emergence of ‘comply or explain’ as a global model for corporate governance codes. European Business Law Review, (Accepted for Publication)
Cabrelli, D. and Esser, I.-M. (2018) A rule-based comparison and analysis of the case studies. In: Siems, M. and Cabrelli, D. (eds.) Comparative Company Law: a Case-Based Approach (2nd Edition). Hart Publishing. ISBN 9781509909360
MacNeil, I. and Esser, I.-M. (2020) The Pandemic Response in the UK in the Context of Corporate and Financial Law – within and without Law. Documentation. SSRN.
Esser, I.-M. (2019) Regulating ESG issues: a comparison of South Africa and the United Kingdom. In: Coetzee, H. and Fritz, C. (eds.) De Serie Legenda: Developments in Commercial Law: Entrepreneurial Law. Volume III. LexisNexis South Africa: Durban. ISBN 9780639008882
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).
REF Contingency Fund (University of Glasgow, College of Social Sciences) (~£2600) (2017)
The International Partnership Development Fund: Successful funding for India and Thailand Workshops to present 3 days on Corporate Governance
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'
- Sathien Rungthongkhamkul - 'Crafting Access to Civil Justice in Thailand : Strengthening Civil Remedy Framework in Responding to Business-Related Human Rights Abuse by Transnational Corporations'
- Snehita Singh - 'Corporate Social Responsibility, corporate governance, company law'
Ansie Oost (co-supervisor: Prof MK Havenga, UNISA) - ‘The new "Safe Harbour" for directors in South Africa: A comparative study of the Business Judgement Rule’
Professor Esser supervises PG students working mainly on company law, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility matters.
- 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'.
- Company Law
- Commercial Law
- Corporate Governance
- Corporate Social Responsibility
Cited during a roundtable discussion at the Australian Treasury (2007).
Submitted comments to a sub-committee of the South African King III Report on Corporate Governance (2008).
Provided comments on the sections on directors’ fiduciary duties of the South African 2008 Companies Bill to the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and Parliament.
Approach and suggestions on stakeholder protection followed in the King IV Corporate Governance Report (followed by a Company Lawyer publication).
Comments provided to/on:
The Green Paper Corporate Governance Consultation in the UK (2016)
The FRC on the updated UK Corporate Governance Code (2018) followed by a Company Lawyer publication.
EU public consultation on the revision to non-financial reporting directive, the FCA CP20/3: Proposals to enhance climate-related disclosures by listed issuers and clarification of existing disclosure obligations (2020);
EU public consultation on the renewal of the sustainable finance strategy (2020);
EU public consultation on sustainable corporate governance (2020);
FRC public consultation on the future of non-financial reporting (2020).
Member of the editorial board of the European Business Law Review.
External examiner roles:
University College London, Edinburgh University, Glasgow International College, University of Pretoria and at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
External examiner to 6 PhD candidates in the UK, South Africa and Australia.
Funding council moderator:
Moderator to the Irish Research Council (2017-).
Acted as a reviewer at the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Academic Network Conference 2018, on invitation.
External Adviser: South African King IV Corporate Governance Report Committee (2016)
Expert panel member of the EU/African Chamber of Commerce (2015-2018)
External consultant at Pascal Observatories (http://pascalobservatory.org/) (2015-)
Member of the PRI (Principles of Responsible Investing) Academic Forum
Member of the United Nations’ Global Compact Task Team (Stakeholder Engagement and Human Rights) (Provide feedback on policy documents and attend round table discussions) (2006).
Review articles for, e.g.:
South African Mercantile Law Journal, Fundamina, Botswana Law Review, Stellenbosch Law Review, Obiter, De Jure, CILSA, European Business Law Review.
Presented an annual weeklong workshop at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa on Board Governance (2009-).
Presented capacity building at various universities in India with Prof Iain MacNeil (2017), in Bangkok, Thailand (2018) and Indonesia (2019) as part of a post-graduate growth initiative.
Latest Research Events Organised
‘The Pandemic Response in the UK in the Context of Corporate and Financial Law – within and without Law’- June 2020 (co-organised and presented a paper)
Workshop ‘Legal issues and perspectives on Fintech’ - 6th February 2020 (Co-organised)
‘AI & the future of law’ – December 2020 (co-chaired a session)
Invited Talks (since 2013)
Invited to attend the International Corporate Governance and Law Forum in Muenster, Germany as a delegate (2013)
Invited talk: ‘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) (2014)
Invited talk: ‘Legislative Response: The South African Social and Ethics Committee and the United Kingdom’s Enlightened Shareholder Value Approach’ at the 19th Commonwealth Law Conference, Glasgow, Scotland, 12-16 Apr 2015
Invited to attend the Company Law Round Table with UK Company law academics at Southampton University (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.
Invited talk: ‘Disclosure vs Participation: Models of Stakeholder Representation in Corporate Decision-Making’ at the International Corporate Governance and Law Forum in Leeds, January 2018
Invited to attend a 1-day conference (invitation only) at Oxford University, Manchester College on ‘Corporate Groups – Facilitation and Control’, 11 January 2018
Dr K C-Ladna presented research findings from a joint report co-written with Professor MacNeil and Prof Esser at an event at the University of Edinburgh entitled ‘Engaging Stakeholders in the UK in Corporate Decision-Making Through Strategic Reporting: An Empirical Study’, hosted by the Edinburgh Centre for Commercial Law (2018)
Invited talk: Co-presented 3 papers (with Prof MacNeil) at ‘II International Conference on Corporate Governance’ (Universidad CEU San Pablo, Madrid) (2020)
Invited panel member: Univeristy of Durham: ‘UK litigation on Extractive Industries and Foreign Security Forces’ (Feb 2021)
Upcoming Invited Talk: UCL interdisciplinary seminar series in Law and Finance (with Prof MacNeil) (May 2021)