Professor Joan Loughrey
Professor of Law
I graduated from Somerville College, University of Oxford, with a degree in Jurisprudence. I then qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales and Hong Kong, practising as a commercial litigator before entering academia. I have lectured in Australia as well as in the UK.
I am the Deputy Head of School and a member of the Centre for Business Law and Practice.
I am the Principal Investigator on an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project on Business Judgment and the Courts. This inter-disciplinary project between the School of Law, Leeds, and the Management School, Liverpool, began in October 2016 and concludes in October 2018. The project aims to explore what is meant by business judgment, how the courts apply this concept and to assess to what extent directors’ decisions in England and Wales should be subject to review by the courts (project award: £281,517).
I am also currently part of a team from the School of Law at the University of Leeds in a research project looking at 'Boosting growth through strengthening investor and creditor protection in China: How China can learn from the UK experience.' The project is in collaboration with the Management School at the University of Wuhan and is funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under its flagship Global Challenges Research Fund.
My published work includes a book on the corporate governance role of corporate lawyers, (Cambridge University Press), described as ‘a thoroughly enjoyable and stimulating text, addressing a topic of huge importance that deserves close reading by both practitioners and legal educators.’ (Riley, Journal of Business Law, 2013). I have contributed to edited collections and my articles have been published in prestigious peer reviewed journals such as the Modern Law Review, the Law Quarterly Review, Journal of Business Law, Legal Ethics, the Journal of Law and Society, and Legal Studies.
My interests are in corporate governance and company law, regulation of the legal profession, the law regulating lawyers (especially conflicts of interest and legal professional privilege) and the regulation of conduct in financial services.
At undergraduate level, I teach Company Law and at postgraduate level, I teach Corporate Law.
I am willing to supervise PhD students in the areas of:
- corporate governance
- corporate law
- regulation of the legal profession and of conduct in financial services
- legal professional privilege
Directors' Duties and Shareholder Litigation in the Wake of the Financial Crisis, ed. by Loughrey J, Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series (Edward Elgar, 2012)
The financial crisis revealed failings at board level at many financial institutions. But despite calls for bank boards to be held to account, there has been a remarkable paucity of litigation against bank directors for breach of their duties to their institutions. This book assesses whether the law relating to directors’ duties and shareholder litigation has contributed to this, taking into account the changes to both that were introduced by the Companies Act 2006.
Corporate Lawyers and Corporate Governance (Cambridge Univ Pr, 2011),
‘Regulating Law Firms from the Inside: The Role of Compliance Officers for Legal Practice in England and Wales’, Journal of Law and Society 2017,
DOI: 10.1111/jols.12072, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/122823/
Following the Legal Services Act 2007, which permitted the delivery of legal services through Alternative Business Structures (ABS), the Solicitors Regulation Authority required all regulated legal service firms to appoint Compliance Officers for Legal Practice (COLPs). COLPs are charged with taking reasonable steps to ensure that firms comply with their obligations, which entails interpreting what outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) requires of the firm. Yet despite their importance, little is known about how compliance roles operate within legal service firms. We addressed this gap through a series of qualitative interviews that explored COLPs’ views of their roles, their attitudes to regulation, in particular to OFR, and to achieving compliance. We found that COLPs are a key regulatory mechanism in the context of firm-based regulation and OFR and have a critical role to play in protecting and promoting professional values in both ABS and non-ABS entities.
‘Smoke and mirrors? Disqualification, accountability and market trust’, Law and Financial Markets Review, 9.1 (2015), 50-62,
DOI: 10.1080/17521440.2015.1032075, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/123379/
The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act introduces reforms to the regime for disqualifying company directors in England and Wales, aimed at restoring market trust in the financial services market and in business generally, by increasing the accountability of company directors. This article examines whether disqualification is an appropriate tool to achieve these goals. It considers the different forms of trust and trustworthiness that regulation can promote, and how. It argues that disqualification is a poor means of promoting intrinsic commitments to trustworthiness which would provide the greatest protection to market participants, and may have limited impact in encouraging trustworthiness for extrinsic reasons. Importantly it is a poor tool for addressing the loss of trust in the financial services market and the present focus on disqualification deflects attention from more pressing questions, namely how best to promote accountability of directors both in financial institutions and in dispersed share-ownership companies generally.
In the wake of the financial crisis, there has been much discussion about whether boards (particularly of banks) are sufficiently accountable. However, while a significant literature has grown up in relation to the study of accountability in various disciplines, particularly public administration and politics, in the field of corporate governance there has been little consideration of what accountability means or entails. This is problematic: without a clearer idea of the elusive concept of accountability, debates about board accountability may be at cross-purposes. It will be difficult to assess whether particular corporate governance mechanisms promote board accountability, and if not, why not. The lack of clarity can also mask accountability deficits. This paper addresses this gap, setting out why accountability is important and offering an account of what accountability means in the corporate governance context, focusing on board accountability, in order to provide a framework for future research.
‘Accountability and the Regulation of the Large Law Firm Lawyer’, Modern Law Review, 77.5 (2014), 732-762,
The regulation of solicitors in England and Wales has undergone great change in the wake of the Legal Services Act 2007. This article considers these regulatory developments through the lens of accountability, focussing on the regulation of transactional lawyers and the large commercial firms. It examines to what extent the Solicitors Regulation Authority's regulatory framework promotes accountability, examining entity regulation, outcomes-focussed and principles-based regulation, reporting and disclosure obligations, the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice and the sanctions system. It argues that although transactional lawyers cannot claim the benefit of the ethical principle of non-accountability, as far as they and their firms are concerned, the regulatory framework is both unnecessary and insufficient. It duplicates the function of accountability to the client and fails to hold transactional lawyers to account for significant regulatory risks that they present, such as the practice of creative compliance.
‘Breaching the Accountability Firewall: Market Norms and the Reasonable Director’, Seattle University Law Review, 37.3 (2014), 134-154,
‘The Regulation of Self-interest in Financial Markets’, in Integrity, Risk and Accountability in Capital Markets, ed. by O'Brien J and Gilligan G (Hart Publishing, 2013), 65-90,