Staff profile - Jean Du Plessis

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Prof Jean Du Plessis

Position: Chair In Law
Faculty or Division: Faculty of Business and Law
Department: Deakin Law School
Campus: Geelong Waterfront Campus
Phone: +61 3 52272180 +61 3 52272180



Jean is currently a Professor of Law at Deakin University. He studied in South Africa and obtained his Doctorate in Law (LLD) in 1991. He served a 3-year term as Head of the Deakin Law School from 2000-2002 and was the President of the Corporate Law Teachers Association (CLTA) in 2007 and 2008. In December 2014 Jean was appointed to the Deakin University Council for a 3-year period until 31 December 2017. Jean became a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) in November 2011. He is currently teaching the units Corporate Governance, Corporate Law and Corporations Law at Deakin University.

Jean has spent extensive time doing research in the UK and in Germany (as Alexander von Humboldt Scholar) in the areas of corporate law and corporate governance. He is the recipient of the Anneliese Maier Research Award ( from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, an award of EUR250,000 over five years (2013-2017) to enable him to conduct research regarding the further internationalisation of the German corporate law and corporate governance models. He has published extensively in international refereed law journals in the areas of corporate law and corporate governance. He published several books as co-author in Australia, Germany and South Africa.

From 2004-2008 Jean has been involved in the South African Corporate Law Reform Program as part of a small international reference group that assisted the South African Department of Trade and Industry with the new South African Companies Act 71 of 2008, which commenced on 1 May 2011.


Teaching Interests

  • Corporate Governance
  • Company Law 
  • Company Directors
  • Business Organisations
  • Business Law
  • Commercial Law

Subjects and units currently teaching

  • Corporate Governance (Postgraduate)
  • Company Directors (Postgraduate)
  • Masters of Corporate Law
  • Diploma in Corporate Law
  • Entrepreneurial Law
  • Business Organisations
  • Corporations Law
  • Business Law

Conferences and seminars

Selected Conference Papers:

  • 2-hour guest lecture, Postgraduate students, Faculty of Law, Renmin University,  'Recent Developments regarding Directors’ Duties, Liabilities and Defences against Liability', Beijing, 24 September 2015.
  • Hong Kong Institute of Directors (HKIoD), Annual Directors’ Conference, 'World Trends in Corporate Governance', Hong Kong, 22 September 2015
  • Keynote address at a joint seminar of the Hong Kong Institute of Company Secretaries (HKICS), CPA Hong Kong and the Law Society Hong Kong on the topic 'New Trends Regarding Sustainability and Integrated Reporting for Companies: What Protection Do Directors Have?', Kong Kong, 22 September 2015
  • Hong Kong Companies Registry,  'Proposal for Law Reform: The Honest and Reasonable Director Defence and other Proposals for Wider Protection against Personal Liability', Honk Kong, 21 September
  • Staff seminar, the Faculty of Law, Hong Kong University, jointly with the Asian Institute of International Finance Law (AIIFL) and the Centre for Financial Regulation & Economic Development (CFRED) on the topic 'New Trends Regarding Sustainability and Integrated Reporting for Companies: What Protection Do Directors Have?', 21 September 2015
  • Is 'good corporate governance' important and does it add value or does it stifle innovation?, Panel Presentation, Annual Corporate Governance Forum (2014), Australian Governance Institute, Melbourne, 5 June 2014;
  • Comparative Corporate Law and Corporate Governance: Convergence, Path Dependency and “Transplantation Rejection”’, International Symposium on Comparative Sciences, 12 October 2013, Sofia, Bulgaria;
  • Delivered Opening Lecture at the Alexander von Humboldt Colloquium as part of the 2013 Anneliese maier Research Award Ceremony, ‘The Convergence of Corporate Law and Corporate Governance Models: Selective Themes and Issues in a Globalised and Internationalised World’, Frankfurt, Germany, 25 September 2013;
  • Keynote Speaker at an inter-disciplinary International Conference on Corporate Governance, ‘Corporate Governance: Its perspectives and challenges in a dynamic and complex business environment’ (the conference was organised by the Faculty of Economics, SS.Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje) Skopje, Macedonia, from 7-8 November 2012;
  • Keynote Speaker, Proxy Board Services, Namibia, Board of Directors’  Conference:  on the topic “Boards in Crisis: How to Manage Chaos in the Boardroom: Some international perspectives”, Swakopmund, 2-3 August 2012;
  • The South African Department of Industry (dti) Conference on the New Companies Bill, 2007, March 19 and 20, 2007, Velmo`re Estate, Mooiplaas, Pretoria, “Codification of directors' duties and the omission of a business judgment rule”;


Awards and prizes

  • Anneliese Maier Research Award from the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (EUR250,000 over a five year period and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) (2013-2018)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Research Scholarships (1995, 2003, 2010)
  • Medallion Award, President of the Corporate Law Teachers Association (CLTA) (2010)


Research interests

  • Corporate Governance
  • Company Directors
  • Employee Participation at Board Level / Codermination

Research grants

  • Anneliese Maier Research Award (EUR250,000), German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2013-2018)
  • Legal Services Board Grant ($46,143) with two other researchers (Anne Rees and Richard Coverdale) – “Provision of Legal Services to Small Business in Rural and Regional Victoria) (2010-2011)
  • 3 months sponsored ($12,000) research visit: Alexander von Humboldt Scholarship (German equivalent of an American Fullbright Scholarships) Post-Doctoral Research in Germany on “German Corporate Governance in European and International Context”  (2010-2011)
  • 6 months sponsored ($24,000) research visit: Alexander von Humboldt Scholarship Post-Doctoral Research in Germany on “Recent Corporate Governance Developments in Germany and the German System of Employee Participation at Supervisory Board Level” (2003)
  • 12 months sponsored ($48,000) research visit: Alexander von Humboldt Scholarship for Post-Doctoral Research in Germany on “The German System of Workers’ Management Codetermination on Board Level as Model for the South African Corporate Law” (1995)



  • Du Plessis, 'The Case for and against Mandatory Gender Quota Legislation for Company Boards' (2015) 20 Deakin Law Review 1-24;
  • Du Plessis and Cordes, 'Claiming Damages from Members of Management Boards in Germany: Time for a Radical Rethink and Possible Lessons from Downunder?' (2015) 36 Company Lawyer 11-29;
  • Du Plessis and Rühmkorf, ‘New Trends Regarding Sustainability and Integrated Reporting for Companies: What Protection do Directors have?’ (2015) 36 Company Lawyer 51-64;
  • Du Plessis, "Key Corporate Governance Themes and Issues in a Globalosed and Internationalised World' (2015) 26 European Business Law Review 1-12;
  • Du Plessis, Hargovan, Bagaric and Harris, Principles of Contemporary Corporate Governance, Cambridge University Press (3rd edition, 2015) (563 pages);
  • Du Plessis, O’Sullivan and Rentschler, ‘The Multiple Layers of Gender Diversity on Corporate Boards: To Force or Not to Force Diversity?’ (2014) 19 Deakin Law Review 1-50;
  • Du Plessis and Alevras, ‘A Shareholder’s Contractual Right to a Dividend and a Company’s Oppressive Conduct in Withholding Dividend Payments’ (2014) 32 Company and Securities Law Journal 552-559;
  • Alevras and Du Plessis, ‘The Payment of Dividends: Legal Confusion, Complexities and the Need for Comprehensive Reform in Australia’ (2014) 32 Company and Securities Law Journal 312-333;
  • Coverdale, Jordan and Du Plessis, ‘An Untapped Resource: Promoting Regional Legal Practice:  Recommendations for the Sector’ (2013) 86 Victoria Law Institute Journal 41-43;
  • Du Plessis, Saenger and Foster, ‘Board Diversity: Perspectives from Europe, Australia and South Africa’ (2012) 17 Deakin Law Review 207-249;
  • Du Plessis, 'Company law developments in South Africa: Modernisation and some salient features of the Companies Act 71 of 2008' (2012) 27 Australian Journal of Corporate Law 46-71
  • Du Plessis and Meaney, 'Directors' liability for approving financial statements containing blatant incorrect items: Lessons from Australia for all directors in all jurisdictions’ (2012) 33 Company Lawyer 273-283
  • Du Plessis, Großfeld, Luttermann, Saenger and Sandrock, German Corporate Governance in International and European Context, Springer Verlag (2nd edition, 2012) (502 pages)
  • Du Plessis, 'Open Sea or Safe Harbour? American, Australian and South African Business Judgment Rules Compared' - Part 1 (2011) 32 Company Lawyer 347-352 / Part 2 (2011) 32 Company Lawyer 377-383
  • Du Plessis, 'A comparative analysis of directors’ duty of care, skill and diligence in South Africa and in Australia' (2010) Acta Juridica 263-289
  • Du Plessis, ‘Revisiting the judge-made rule of non-interference in internal company matters’ (2010) 86 South African Law Journal 304-327
  • Du Plessis, 'Reflections and perspectives on the South African close corporation as business vehicle for SMEs' (2009) 15 New Zealand Business Law Quarterly 250-275
  • Du Plessis, 'Corporate law and corporate governance lessons from the past: Ebbs and flows, but far from 'The End of History ..." ' - Part 1 (2009) 30 Company Lawyer 43 / Part 2 (2009) 30 Company Lawyer 7

Link to publications

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