Legal transplants and adaptation in a colonial setting: company law in British Malaya

Petra Mahy, Ian Ramsay

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This paper traces the development of company law during the colonial era in British Malaya, providing details on the laws of the Straits Settlements and the Federated Malay States. It also presents an account of economic development and the use of the limited liability company form in these two interlinked jurisdictions. The paper notes the lack of connection between the evolution of company law in Malaya, local economic and political developments and the actual local use of the law. We situate this material within three current debates about the nature of colonial company law: whether the law was more a product of the “transplant effect” than of legal family; whether the dispersal of company law to the colonies was as straightforward as is often assumed; and whether the law was best characterised as “imperialism”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123–150
Number of pages28
JournalSingapore Journal of Legal Studies
VolumeJuly 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • company law
  • history
  • British Malaya
  • Straits Settlements
  • Federated Malay States
  • transplant effect
  • legal family

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