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The history of incorporations legislation and its administration is intimately tied to changes in social beliefs in respect to the role and purpose of the corporation. By studying the evolution of the corporate form in Britain and a number of its colonial possessions, the book illuminates debates on key concepts including the meanings of laissez faire, freedom of commerce, the notion of corporate responsibility and the role of the state in the regulation of business. In doing so, A Social History of Company Law advances our understanding of the shape, effectiveness and deficiencies of modern regulatory regimes, and will be of much interest to a wide circle of scholars.