Stefan H C Lo
Law Quarterly Review, Volume 139, Issue Jul
Published: July 2023
Abstract: The doctrine of veil-piercing remains one of the enigmas of company law. The imagery of piercing of the corporate veil vividly symbolises the fact that veil-piercing strikes at the core of the concept of a company as a legal entity separate from its members. As such, the doctrine continues to be controversial. The Supreme Court in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd confirmed the existence of the doctrine under the common law and Lord Sumption in that case attempted to provide clarity on the scope of the doctrine. In some respects, his Lordship's views have assisted in clarifying the principles but, in other respects, his judgment has added to confusion. Many have also interpreted 'Prest' as narrowing the scope of veil-piercing, rendering the doctrine almost meaningless in practice. The Supreme Court's observations in the recent decision of Hurstwood Properties (A) Ltd v Rossendale BC lend support to such scepticism on the import of the doctrine.