Monday smile – Horses, pantomime and metaphorical

panto-horse-raceLast week saw the 7th London Pantomime Horse Race – a seasonal charity event dubbed by the capital’s newspaper, the Evening Standard as ‘The daftest contest in the racing calendar“. This year, the annual event’s theme was ‘United Neighhh-tions‘.

The races have raised thousands of pounds. This year’s charity was The Sick Children’s Trust, and donations are still being accepted.

To give you a flavour, here are some of the horse’s names: El Dobino, Horsey McHorseface, Bjorn Hooferson, Custard the Dragon Horse… Reassuring to know that in these worrying times London remains as mad as ever.

Find out more here.

* * *

And once I started thinking about pantomime horses I couldn’t stop. I came across a 1975 paper by Dafydd Jenkins entitled “Skinning the Pantomime Horse: Two Early Cases on Limited Liability” published in the Cambridge Law Journal – I think the abstract is a work of art! 🙂

veilThe practice of “lifting the veil” from the modern company seems at times to be regarded as a sign that corporate personality is a fiction. This view is hardly logical: if the personality of the company were a fiction, there would be no veil to lift, the liability of the company must be the liability of the members, and limited liability must be an illusion. It is precisely because the legal personality of the company is real that special arrangements must be made for lifting the veil of this personality when it conceals the wrongdoing of a member or director.

panto-horse-jockeyTo use a more florid metaphor, when the powerful hoofs of the pantomime horse are used for improper kicking. Back Legs will be stripped of his protective covering, and made to account for his use of an engine of destruction more powerful than his own boots — on exactly the same principle as if he were made to account for his use of a natural horse’s to cause damage. It makes no difference whether he sits on the horse’s back or stands inside its skin; and it makes no difference to the man’s liability for wrongful use of the horse whether the horse has a legal personality or not. (It may of course make a difference to what the victim does about it, since he may have good reasons for choosing to sue the horse rather than the man.)

Jenkins concludes by saying that “The case may also serve to remind us that if the horse is duly skinned, Back Legs may prove to have slipped outside the jurisdiction – whether to seventeenth-century Hamburg or to present-day South America” (p. 321).

The full paper can be found here.

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