Thursday, 11 December 2014 00:05
By Senuri De Silva
Filling a lacuna in academic literature discussing the latest Company Law Act of Sri Lanka, President’s Counsel K. Kanag-Iswaran and Attorney-at-Law Dilshani Wijayawardana launched their latest Company Law book last week.
The book was well-received by the legal community in an event attended by some of its most notable members, including Chief Justice Mohan Peiris. Dr. Wickrama Weerasooriya and Dr. Harsha Cabral both gave affirmation of the book’s brilliance.
Dr. Cabral described the book as a ‘locus classicus’ and spoke of his revered guru Kanag-Isvaran saying, “He’s an absolute perfectionist, not only in law but in all other aspects in life. He has trained so many of us. The training we got was marvellous and meticulous to the detail.”
K. Kanag-Isvaran hands over the first copy of ‘Company Law’ to Chief Justice Mohan Peiris
Dr. Weerasooriya stated that according to his knowledge the co-author Dilshani Wijayawardana, who obtained her master’s degree in commercial law from Cambridge University, was the youngest author of a textbook of this calibre. As he pointed out, “I thought about it, I looked around all the books and I couldn’t find a younger author than Dilshani for a book of this nature.”
Outlining the story of the development of Company Law, Dr. Weerasooriya also pointed out the significance of the Company Law Act No. 7 of 2007, which brought the Sri Lankan law up-to-date.
“In 1644 came the legislation in England and, in 1938 came the legislation to Sri Lanka based on the legislation in England. After that, companies took off,” he said, adding, “Our law was 55 years behind. We were going on the 1948 English Act, which came to 1982 and from 1982 we were struggling to get this reformed.”
“These two authors have dealt with a very important aspect of law, the company which is all a statutory fiction,” he said, illustrating how much company law itself has developed, from the first companies being formed in England by Royal charter and later emerging concepts such as separate legal personality, which enabled the possibility of limited liability, raising capital and perpetual succession.
A Professor of Law in both Sri Lanka and Australia with no less than 20 legal publications to his name, Dr. Weerasooriya also spoke of the importance of a proper index and table of cases as a true measure of the quality of such a book. He said: “The best feature I saw as an academic and as a writer myself was the table of cases and the index.”
Dr. Weerasooriya, who formally reviewed the book at this event, also said: “It is beautifully written. The language is exquisite. And here I quote Oscar Wilde – a book is either well written or badly written. Ladies and gentlemen, believe me that statement is true. Don’t look at a book any other way. Pick it up and look through a few pages. Is it well written or badly written? If it’s well written, it’s readable. Otherwise your mind stresses you and you want to put it down.”
Wijeywardana described the hard work that went into writing this book as a labour of love, a quest she began during a challenging period of her life, while attending to her ailing father in a hospital in India. The Company Act of 2007 had just been published then and ‘hot off the press’ she recalled the moment her mentor gave her a copy of the new Act setting off a series of events which led to the creation of the book.
She said: “I still cannot believe that our book project is finally over, but as every child flies its nest, I guess this book has its own journey to complete. All we can do is wish it well and know that we have given it our best. This book will always be the magnum opus of my life. As for me, the heaviness of writing and completing a book that has taken seven long years of my life has been replaced with the lightness of being a beginner again.”
Kannag-Iswaran also thanked his friends, family, friends and colleagues for all the support they received while completing the book.
A copy of the book was ceremoniously handed over to the Chief Justice for the library of the Supreme Court. The law faculty of Colombo, Jayawardenapura and Jaffna will also carry this title for reference by students studying Company Law.
Pix by Shehan Gunasekara