Photo of Professor Andrew Johnston

Professor Andrew Johnston

Position: Professor of Company Law and Corporate Governance
Email Address:
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 6811
Twitter ID: @profandrewj

Academic Profile

I was appointed to a chair at Sheffield in January 2013. Before coming to Sheffield, I lectured at the Universities of Queensland, Cambridge, Sheffield (2003-5) and Warsaw. I teach and research in the fields of company law and corporate governance, broadly conceived. My latest research projects examine the contribution of corporate governance to sustainability and regulatory responses to the global financial crisis.

I studied law as an undergraduate at Cambridge and wrote my doctorate at the European University Institute in Florence. Before becoming an academic I practised as a solicitor with Herbert Smith and the Treasury Solicitor.


  • PhD, European University Institute, Florence;
  • BA/MA(law), University of Cambridge;
  • Diploma in Legal Practice, College of Law.

Teaching and Learning

I encourage students to think about the policies behind the law, and to make connections with other subjects they have studied earlier in their degree. As company law is highly topical, I always try to relate what we are studying to current events in the corporate and financial worlds. I also try to introduce economic perspectives wherever possible, explaining them in simple terms in order to demystify them. I believe it is essential for students to understand these perspectives – and their limits – because they have such a firm grip on policymakers’ imaginations. More specifically, I encourage students to consider the best way in which the social costs companies can create can be dealt with, or governed, and the role the law should play in this. In doing so, I draw on my research on corporate governance and the financial crisis, as well as my involvement in the ‘Sustainable Companies’ and SMART projects based at the University of Oslo. I use a variety of teaching methods in the seminars I lead. In the second year module on Private Law Aspects of Company Law, we often focus on problem solving and applying the law to the facts. The module provides a foundation for the study of advanced corporate and financial modules in the third year. The module on the Law of Public Companies is research-led, and involves discussions about the policy behind the law. I try to encourage student participation in lectures, whilst in seminars, students work in small groups to develop and deliver presentations, drawing on lectures and their own independent research. I encourage students to read widely around the area of corporate governance, drawing on legal and other social science materials. Students are then given detailed feedback on their presentations, both by their peers and by me, as seminar leader. I ensure that I am accessible to students to discuss their research, whether at the end of lectures and seminars, or during my office hour.

The modules I teach are:

Undergraduate     LLM                 
Private Law Aspects of Company Law Introduction to Company Law and Corporate Governance
The Law of Public Companies Current Issues in Company Law and Corporate Governance

Research Interests

  • Company Law
  • Corporate Governance
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Law & Economics
  • Corporate Governance & Sustainability

Member of the SICCL Research Cluster
Member of Sheffield Institute of Corporate and Commercial Law.

Areas of Research Supervision

  • Company Law (including European and comparative)
  • Corporate Governance
  • Regulation
  • Law & Economics
  • Financial Crisis
  • Financial Markets
  • Corporate Social Responsibility

Recent Invited Papers and Keynote Lectures

  • Invited presentation on ‘Employee voice in European Corporate Governance Regulation: History and Prospects’ at ‘Workshop on Corporate Governance and Workers’ Voice in Europe’, organised by Hans-Böckler Foundation and Hertie School of Governance, CGIL, Rome, 14th March 2017
  • Research seminar, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Enterprise: How the Law Forgot about Management’, 3CL, University of Cambridge Faculty of Law, 7th March 2017
  • Invited presentation on ‘The changing scope of CSR in UK company law’ at the Lara D. Gass Annual Symposium on Corporate Law, Governance, and Purpose: A Tribute to the Scholarship of Lyman Johnson and David Millon, held at Washington and Lee University School of Law, 21st-22nd October 2016.
  • Invited presentation on ‘Incentivising Long-Term Shareholding’ at Creating Sustainable Companies summit, organised by Frank Bold and Cass Business School, Brussels, 28th September 2016
  • Invited presentation ‘Constructing Shareholder Primacy’ at Company Law Roundtable, University of Southampton Law School 16th June 2016
  • Invited presentation ‘The Rise and Eclipse of the Enterprise in Law’ (with Blanche Segrestin) at Shaping the Corporate Landscape Symposium 14th-15th June 2016, Centre of Law and Enterprise, University of Bristol Law School
  • Invited presentation entitled ‘Nobody owns corporations – so how should they be governed?’ at ETHOS Corporate Governance Roundtable discussion on ‘Who Owns the Corporation?’ at Cass Business School on 17th December 2015. The other speakers were John Plender of the Financial Times and Anita Skipper, Corporate Governance Advisor at Aviva Investors.
  • Research seminar ‘Regulating Hedge Funds for Systemic Stability’, Durham University, Institute of Corporate and Commercial Law, 25th November 2015
  • Invited research seminar entitled ‘Regulating Hedge Funds for Systemic Stability: the EU’s Approach’ presented at Renmin University Law School, 20th October 2015 and Durham University Law School, 25th November 2015.

Key Projects/Grants

Title/Description: Sustainable Market Actors for Responsible Trade
Awarding Body: EU Horizon 2020
People Involved: University of Oslo and SMART Network
Years Funded for: 2016 - 2020
Amount: £90,000 (to Sheffield)
Title/Description: ‘Institutional Activism in Corporate Governance: Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors in China’
Awarding Body: Marie Curie Sklodowska Fellowship Scheme
People Involved: Wenge Wang
Years Funded for: 2016 - 2018
Amount: £180,000
Title/Description: Law and Finance in China
Awarding Body: Economic and Social Research Council
People Involved: CBR, Cambridge (Simon Deakin), SICCL (Ding Chen, Navajyoti Samanta), Renmin University and Hunan University
Years Funded for: 2017 - 2018
Amount: £390,000

Professional Activities and Recognition

  • Research Associate at Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge
  • Member, Sustainable Companies Network and Sustainable Market Actors for Responsible Trade Project, University of Oslo
  • Member, GOODCORP Research Network, European Trade Union Institute, Brussels
  • Associate Fellow, Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI)
  • Visiting Professor Mines ParisTech (March 2016) and Queensland University of Technology (July 2016)
  • Acted as consultant (with Frank Bold, Jay Cullen and Ting Xu) advising Global Witness and Friends of the Earth on Landgrabbing and Financial Regulation (November 2015 to February 2016).

Key Publications


  • Johnston A (2009) EC Regulation of Corporate Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Johnston A, Sjåfjell B, Anker-Sørensen L & Millon D (2015) Shareholder primacy: the main barrier to sustainable companies In Sjåfjell B & Richardson B (Ed.), Company Law and Sustainability: Legal Barriers and Opportunities Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Johnston A & Morrow P (2015) Towards long-termism in Corporate Governance: the Shareholder Rights Directive and beyond, Long-term investment and the Sustainable Company: a stakeholder perspective Brussels: ETUI. RIS download Bibtex download