The passing of the Companies Act 2006 has necessitated a major update, if not an almost complete rewrite, of all company law texts. The first was the excellent Mayson, French & Ryan on Company Law, and now another leading text has undergone a similar update. Even though the Act will not be fully in force until October 2009 (a year-long extension was announced shortly after the publication of this text), this update is written as if it were.
The largest piece of legislation ever passed by Parliament requires a similarly sizeable text to articulate the changes, and at more than 1,100 pages, this book is certainly a heavyweight. Thankfully, the text itself is by no means heavy going. All too often, company law texts can degenerate into dense and overly technical accounts. It is therefore extremely refreshing that such a comprehensive text is also wonderfully clear and fluid. The authors are to be commended on the clarity of the writing, and this book goes a long way towards making the topic more accessible.
However, this accessibility comes at a price. While extremely clear and engaging, it lacks the academic rigour and analysis of Mayson, French & Ryan. The focus is clearly on exposition, rather than on analysis, and given the extent of the changes introduced by the new Act this is understandable.
In terms of coverage, the chapter structure is familiar to anyone who has read a company law text. The authors point out that this edition covers European company law and corporate governance - topics that are usually not discussed in any real depth in company law books.
Traditionally, European company law tends to be incorporated into an early introductory chapter rather than being discussed in its own right. It is therefore extremely welcome to see this topic afforded the importance it deserves. The historical backdrop is set out with a brief but engaging account of the harmonisation programme before moving on to recent developments, namely the European Company Statute.
Discussing corporate governance is a trend that came about shortly after the collapse of Enron. However, it is a fundamental issue and company law books invariably fail to articulate its scope and importance. Instead they focus, as this text does, on the corporate governance initiatives of the 1990s before briefly discussing one or two topical issues.
Ultimately, however, this is a relatively minor criticism of the text and in no way detracts from its main goal, namely to provide a clear and comprehensive account of the new law - which it does admirably.
Who is it for? Practitioners, company secretaries and students studying company law.
Presentation: Clearly written, well structured and relatively easy to understand. The updating to incorporate the changes introduced by the Companies Act 2006 has been done well.
Would you recommend it? Highly recommended. This is now the leading text for exposition of the law and it deserves a place on any reading list.
Boyle and Birds' Company Law
Authors: John Birds, A. J. Boyle, Bryan Clark, Iain MacNeil, Gerard McCormack, Christian Twigg-Flesner and Charlotte Villiers