Business society for online business registration Hong Kong

Business society for online business registration Hong Kong

After the establishment of online business registration in Hong Kong, firms may strategically deplete their resources, potentially leading to liquidation. Insufficient funds could leave businesses unable to meet their obligations to creditors. Trading fraud is prevalent in various regions, including Hong Kong. For instance, restaurant owners running their business through a company might abruptly close the operation, leaving behind unpaid debts, only to reopen a similar restaurant under a new company, eliminating competition.

This practice, known as Piercing the Company Shroud, challenges the notion of a company as a separate legal entity. The court may invoke this doctrine to expose the individuals behind the company and strip it of the advantages associated with being a distinct legal entity.

This article delves into the concept of the corporate veil and aims to curb potential abuses within the corporate culture.

Understanding the Corporate Veil:

Apart from the benefits offered by online business registration in Hong Kong, the combination of a separate legal entity and limited liability can be exploited and abused. Deliberate resource depletion post-registration and trading fraud can jeopardize a company's financial stability, leading to insolvency. To combat such abuses, Common Law and Statutory laws impose responsibility on those individuals controlling the company, such as shareholders or directors.

This approach is commonly referred to as Piercing the Company Shroud, also known as the Doctrine of Piercing or Lifting the Corporate Veil. It essentially undermines the notion that a company is a separate legal entity. It's essential to note that this doctrine is only intended to reveal the individuals responsible for corporate fraud and is not meant to alter fundamental company or trust laws. The proper interpretation of this doctrine must be established without conflicting with other laws.

The Corporate Veil and Common Law:

Courts are authorized to pierce the corporate veil through Common Law in exceptional circumstances. This practice is more common in offshore incorporations, such as Hong Kong's company formation cost. However, the rules governing when and why this doctrine should be applied are still unclear. Courts typically apply this doctrine only when justice demands it, not merely to serve the interests of justice.

To provide clarity on when this doctrine can be applied, the House of Lords introduced a test that is also applicable to new offshore incorporations in Hong Kong. This test suggests that the Corporate Veil can only be pierced when it is clear that the company is concealing essential facts and is essentially a "sham." However, strictly speaking, a company cannot be considered a sham if it was incorporated in compliance with company law requirements.

In the Winland Enterprises Group Inc v. Wex Pharmaceuticals Inc case, Hong Kong's Court of Appeal stated that Piercing the corporate veil should be employed only when there is clear evidence of the controller's intent to avoid legal obligations. The court emphasized the need to establish that the company was being used as a mere facade with fraudulent intent.

During the Hashem v. Shayif case, Munby J examined English cases where this doctrine was applied and outlined several principles for applying Piercing of the Corporate Veil:

  • The court cannot pierce the veil solely based on the belief that justice requires it.
  • In cases of inconsistency, piercing may be appropriate.
  • The piercing must be related to the company's structure and evasion of responsibility.
  • If piercing is evident, the court must demonstrate control by both wrongdoers and the company.
  • The company must be a facade at the time of the wrongdoing, even if it wasn't initially incorporated with ill intentions.
  • The court may pierce the veil to rectify controller malpractices, not for all purposes.

Lord Sumption narrowed the scope of the doctrine, arguing that prior cases involving Piercing of the Corporate Veil revolved around either the sham or evasion principles. According to Lord Sumption, the court is not disregarding the corporate facade but rather seeking to uncover the concealed facts within the corporate structure.


Piercing the Corporate Veil remains a limited and nuanced legal concept. When the test is satisfied, it signifies a legal connection between a company and its controllers, making the piercing of the corporate veil unnecessary. Instances of this doctrine highlight the misuse of the corporate veil to evade the law, which can be rectified by disregarding the company's legal personality. This approach aligns with established legal principles and enduring legal policy.

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