Business Law I

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This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.

LAW B262

Business Law I

Welcome to LAW B262 Business Law I.

This is a one-semester, five-credit compulsory course for HKMU students studying for the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and BBA (Hons) degrees in various business areas.

This course focuses on the general concepts and principles of business law in Hong Kong. It is designed to help students learn and master the key concepts of business law and apply what they have learned in daily life. It is aimed at helping students understand how the general principles of business law are being used, and also tackles authentic legal problems.

The study units, custom textbook, supplementary readings, activities, and self-tests will help you master the topics of the course. This course will be delivered in a print-based custom textbook format, supplemented with a study guide, plus online multimedia components and face-to-face sessions.

 

Course aims

The overall aims of LAW B262 Business Law I are to:

  • Introduce you to the general concepts and principles of business law in Hong Kong.
  • Raise your awareness of the legal environment in which businesses operate.
  • Familiarize you with the general principles of the law you need to deal with the legal problems and make more efficient and informed decisions.
  • Develop your capability to avoid conflict and personal liability in commerce.

Course learning outcomes

Upon the completion of LAW B262 Business Law, you should be able to:

  • Explain the legal system of Hong Kong, including the sources of law, as well as the judiciary system; and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the major types of commercial organization with application to their general operations in real-life contexts.
  • Identify the essential issues that a valid contract should possess, and analyse the factors that render a contract void or discharged, including the introduction of special contracts and various types of remedies.
  • Examine the general principles in the law of tort and the remedies for breach, and explain and discuss in detail the tort of negligence with application to real-life scenarios.

The following table gives a general overview of the course structure. It suggests the amount of time you should allow for completing units and provides a broad schedule for you to plan your work. This estimation includes time for reading the units and custom textbook, completing activities, self-tests and assignments, attending tutorials, and preparing for your final examination.

 

UnitTitleWeeksAssessment activities
(end of unit)
1The Hong Kong legal system3 
2Contract law (I)3 
3Contract law (II)3Assignment 1
4Law of tort4 
5Business organizations3Assignment 2
 Total16 

In this course’s custom textbook-based approach, the course learning modules are selected from two textbooks on business law and company law.

Your study pathway through the custom textbook is set out in an HKMU-produced study guide. In addition to the guided activities and self-tests already provided in the custom textbook, the study guide includes supplementary material and additional self-assessment opportunities. You will also have access to multimedia materials on HKMU’s Online Learning Environment (OLE), and regular face-to-face meetings for tutorials.

This course’s combination of the latest editions of textbooks, plus the study guide, and multimedia and face-to-face learning opportunities, will provide you with a rich coverage of current developments in business law in Hong Kong.

 

Introductory video

To start off, you should watch the introductory video for the course in the ePub version of this Course Guide or on the OLE. Then turn to the Study Guide for further guidance through the course.

 

The custom textbook

The title of the custom textbook is LAW B262 Business Law I. The chapters are selected from the following textbooks.

  • Stott, V (2019) An Introduction to Hong Kong Business Law, Hong Kong: Prentice Hall.
  • Stott, V (2020) Hong Kong Company Law, Hong Kong: Pearson.

The study guide will indicate at which point you should read each chapter of the custom textbook.

 

The study guide

The study guide is divided into five units. The study guide serves two functions. First, it provides you with information on the aims, learning outcomes, assessment strategies, and means of support for this course. Second, it will set out your study pathway through the customized textbook and other course learning resources, and will provide supplementary material and additional self- assessment opportunities.

 

The Online Learning Environment (OLE)

A dedicated area for LAW B262 students has been set up on HKMU’s OLE. You will need to log on regularly to the OLE to access the course discussion board, and online supplementary learning components.

 

Face-to-face support

You will be supported throughout the course by regular face-to-face meetings in the form of tutorials and surgeries.

 

UnitFace-to-face sessionsHrs
1Tutorial 13
2Tutorial 23
3Tutorial 33
4Tutorial 43
5
Total 12

 

Assessment

This course is designed to assist you to move easily from the stated objectives, through the study units, readings, and materials to the assignments and examination. During the course, you will have your progress assessed both formally and informally.

Formative assessment includes various activities, self-tests, and online discussions that you will undertake while working your way through the custom textbook, study guide and readings.

Summative assessment consists of assignments and a final examination.

 

Course assessment summary

The following table summarizes the assessment requirements for this course. In order to pass this course, you must pass both the assignments component and the examination.

 

AssessmentCourse areas coveredWeighting
Assignment 1Units 1 and 220%
Assignment 2Units 3 and 420%
ExaminationUnits 1, 2, 3, 4 and 560%
Total 100%

 

Assignments

There are two assignments for the course. You will be expected to apply concepts and techniques acquired during the course when completing assignments.

Assignment 1, worth 20% of the total marks for the course, evaluates material covered in Units 1 and 2.

Assignment 2, worth 20%, evaluates material covered in Units 3 and 4.

 

How to submit assignments

You must use word processing software (such as Microsoft Word) to prepare the assignments, and submit the assignments via the Online Learning Environment (OLE). All assignments must be uploaded to the OLE by the due date.

Failure to upload an assignment in the required format to the OLE may result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.

 

Assignment extension policy

The assignment policy of the University as stated in the Student Handbook should be observed. You are required to submit assignments for this course in accordance with the dates communicated by your course coordinator. You may apply for a submission extension on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement, or other compassionate circumstances.

Applications for extensions of up to seven days should be submitted to the tutor. The tutor shall consider valid and unexpected emergencies on an individual basis. Normally, documented proof of the extenuating circumstances is not required for extensions of up to seven days. The tutor shall decide and advise you of the revised date for submission.

For extensions of over seven days, you should note the following:

  1. If you require an extension of more than seven days on the grounds of illness, accident, disability, bereavement, or other compassionate circumstances, you are required to complete an ‘Application Form for Assignment Extension over seven days’ and submit it to the Course Coordinator.
  2. Supporting documents must be submitted along with the application for extension of over seven days to justify the claim.
  3. Applications for extension should normally be lodged before or on the due date.
  4. Applications are considered by:
    a. the Course Coordinator for extensions of 8 to 21 days; and
    b. the Dean for extensions of over 21 days.

After an assignment is submitted via the OLE, it is your responsibility to check that the assignment has been successfully submitted. Extension applications due to any problem with uploading will not be accepted. The University cannot accept any responsibility for assignments that are not received by your tutor due to any problem with submission via the OLE. As a precaution, you are advised to keep a copy of each assignment you submit.

According to the University’s policy, no extension of the due date will be allowed for the final assignment. This policy will be strictly enforced. Any late submission of the final assignment will result in the score of the assignment being adjusted to zero.

 

Examination

The final examination for LAW B262 will be of three hours’ duration and have a value of 60% of the total course grade. The examination will consist of questions that reflect the types of practice exercises and assignments you have previously experienced.

Case studies are a useful and increasingly popular form of learning and assessment in HKMU’s School of Business and Administration. In this section we will look at why case studies are used and then suggest some learning strategies that you can use to approach case studies. We will also briefly discuss some problems that you may encounter as you learn from case studies.

 

What is a case study approach to learning?

One main purpose of a case study is to explore an issue or a number of issues in relation to an organization. The intention is to get you to carefully diagnose an organization; to focus on key problems, and to suggest how these might be resolved. Often the case is a real-life account of an organization which you are required to analyse in order to focus on a problem. Usually, the information that is provided is incomplete and you are often expected to observe developments in the organization over a period of time. The case study approach is an excellent opportunity to actively apply material that you have read and conceptual knowledge to the reality of an organization.

At HKMU, case studies may be used as part of assignments, exams, study units, or day-school exercises. You normally are given some information about a company (this could be both text and graphical information, such as figures and tables). You are then asked to think about some problems related to the company and to use concepts and apply theories that you have learned in your course to propose possible solutions for the company.

Let’s have a look at two kinds of case study questions that you might be asked to work through in your courses. The first example is quite structured, while the second is much more open-ended.

 

Two examples of case study questions

  1. Read the case study entitled ‘ABC Consultants’ and consider the following issues:
    • Using your understanding of the resource-based model, what measures could be taken to improve ABC’s returns?
    • Drawing on your broad understanding of the consultancy industry, assess ABC’s relative competitiveness and its profit potential.
    • To what extent do internal factors account for ABC’s financial weaknesses?
    • Based on your assessment of ABC’s financial weaknesses, formulate a new strategic intent and develop a mission statement for ABC.
  2. Read the case study entitled ‘XYZ Industries’.
    • Identify the key problems that are currently faced by XYZ’s management.
    • Propose viable solutions to these problems.

Why case studies?

As you can see from the above examples, a case study approach to learning requires a great deal of thinking and often will not easily yield a quick ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ answer. However, case studies are also good preparation for dealing with real-life business problems. Cases may be short and relatively simple, or longer and complex. The purpose is the same for both types: to give you an opportunity to develop your skills in analysing the strengths and weaknesses of the organization under examination, to consider the processes at work within the organization, and to make decisions about future actions.

Case studies are not meant to replace textbooks, but rather to ask you to draw connections between theories and practice and to apply abstract ideas, concepts, and principles to specific concrete situations. Consequently, case analysis develops a number of skills that are crucial in business. In particular, they help you to:

  • analyse complex, unstructured, sometimes ambiguous situations;
  • identify critical issues and problems;
  • question your own and others’ assumptions;
  • improve your problem-solving skills;
  • develop your ability to find alternatives and make informed decisions;
  • make decisions with incomplete information and think strategically;
  • self-educate yourself and draw on a broad range of resources and knowledge; and
  • present and justify recommendations in writing.

You may find that there are many possible ‘right’ answers to the questions in a case study. This illustrates that there is often no single best way to responsibly manage and solve real-life business problems.

 

Some guidelines for analysing case studies

The following strategies should help you to successfully analyse case studies:

 

1 Read the case and become familiar with the facts

First, skim read the case to obtain a general understanding of the main point(s). Highlight or underline the pertinent points as you read.

Read the case again, and this time note down critical facts (such as names, time sequences, and where events occurred). Try to understand how events have influenced decisions. Identify the important individuals or stakeholders, and try to assess the importance of supporting information in the case. How reliable is this supporting information? Are there any gaps in the information that is given?

Make a note of any questions that you have as you read the case.

 

2 Assess the context of the case

Try to understand the environment of the organization and the wider context of the case. Ask yourself questions about:

  • The state of the organization: What is the state of this organization: good, bad or in-between? Usually this involves thinking about interpersonal relationships, and assessing production or financial problems.
  • Key players and systems: How do systems and people operate in this organization? Why do they operate like this? Are the systems undergoing change? How successful are the changes? Is there someone who could sabotage any future strategy? Is there someone who can ensure the success of a future strategy?
  • Significant trends: How does this industry operate? What are the main or unique characteristics of the industry? What were they five or ten years ago, and what are they likely to be in the future? What impact are trends likely to have on the organization under investigation? How does this organization’s performance compare with that of competitors?
  • Constraints: Clearly identify all constraints in the case. A constraint may be viewed as anything (usually beyond the control of the organization) that may prevent an otherwise feasible course of action from becoming a success. What is outside the control of individuals in the case study? For example, it is unlikely that any company or individual in Hong Kong could prevent a foreign government from imposing tariff barriers on imports.

A SWOT analysis is a good way to get a better understanding of the organization and the context or environment in which it is operating. A SWOT analysis considers the Strengths and Weaknesses of the organization, and the Opportunities and Threats which the organization faces in the external environment.

 

3 Recognize the case's symptoms

Read the case again and as you read, try listing all the symptoms of the case. The symptoms of a case are not the problems, but they may help you to identify the problems. Symptoms are all the things that are undesirable or that are not as expected. For example, falling sales could be a symptom of several problems such as poor market segmentation, poor product quality, or problems in a supply chain. At this stage of your analysis, you should just try to observe all the symptoms, and avoid prematurely identifying problems or suggesting solutions. Like a doctor who consults a patient, you first need to observe and note all the symptoms before you can give a definite diagnosis of the problem. Think about how the symptoms may be interrelated. Relationship diagrams, like the one below, may help you to see the relationships between symptoms.

 

4 Diagnose the case's problems

After you have a good sense of the symptoms, you’re ready to determine key issues that need to be analysed more closely. You are now diagnosing the situation, like a doctor diagnosing a patient’s symptoms. Ask yourself ‘what seems to be the trouble in this organization?’ and make a list of what you now perceive to be the key problem(s). You will probably need to go back to the details of the case and as you do this, you may add to or refine your list of potential problems.

If there are several problems, you need to order and prioritize them. You might want to number problems according to how you perceive their importance, or make a matrix, like the one below, which shows relationships between various criteria and each problem.

 

CriteriaProblem #1Problem #2Problem #3
Importance: what will happen if the problem is not addressed?   
Urgency: how quickly must this problem be solved?   
Centrality: To what extent does this problem cause others?   
Solvability: Can this problem actually be solved?   

 

Also try to establish if there are relationships or themes in common among the various problems. Perhaps different problems in your list are actually variations of a broader central problem.

Ask yourself what assumptions you have made about the case. Are these assumptions reasonable, and are they supported by the facts? Would other people objectively suggest the same problems, based on the facts that you have? Are you suggesting problems that are not supported by the facts of the case?

After you have considered and put into order the possible problems and questioned your assumptions relating to these problems, you should write a statement of the problems as you perceive them. Avoid suggesting solutions at this stage.

Once you have a problem statement, you need to find evidence in the case to support your problem diagnosis. Also, try to identify ideas, concepts and theories from your textbook and course units which help to explain what is happening in the case.

 

5 Formulate criteria for a 'good' solution and identify possible constraints to solutions

Before you propose a solution, you need to consider the characteristics of a ‘good’ solution. Obviously, your solution should bring benefits such as improved productivity, reduced costs or greater profits. However, it also needs to be viable and to accommodate the constraints that you have already identified, i.e. Is the solution legal? Is there a budget for this solution? Does it conflict with the organization’s culture?

Try to brainstorm alternative solutions. Aim to generate a broad and creative range of options and then try to rate each according to various criteria.

The following matrix demonstrates how this can be done.

 

 CostEase of implementationImpact on organization cultureImpact on profits
Option 1*******
Option 2*********
Option 3*******

 

Also refer to ideas, concepts and theories from your course materials as you consider and assess each possible solution.

It’s often wise to propose a solution that allows for plausible alternatives if it should fail. Managers use the term satisfice when they are considering acceptable alternative solutions, that is, the solution is able to satisfy the situation while also making some realistic sacrifices to existing constraints. Therefore, it is a satisficing rather than a maximizing solution.

Finally, don’t forget to consider the possibility of taking no action. What will actually happen if no action is taken? Are any (or all) of the solutions less viable than taking no action at all?

 

6 Recommend a viable solution

After you have assessed the merits and pitfalls of each alternative solution, select the best solution for the situation.

Remember that the solution needs to be viable. Can the recommended solution be introduced? Are there the resources and the willingness to implement it? Be realistic about what may work. Explain why it is the best solution within the constraints of the existing context and explain how it can be applied to the organization. Suggest a time-frame for the solution’s implementation.

Outline possible strategies for implementing your solution, either partially or completely. As many feasible courses of action as possible should be considered before you choose the one that seems the most likely to succeed. The more ideas you have, the greater your chance will be of finding a solution that will work well. The complexity of most organizational problems means that it is highly unlikely that one idea alone will correct the situation. Usually a combination of actions is required, and these need to be funded differently, timed carefully and staffed as necessary.

 

7 Present your solution as a written recommendation

Review your final solutions and then prepare a set of written recommendations. These should clearly outline your proposed solution in relation to the problems that you have identified. Your recommendations should also include details of why these solutions are the most appropriate given the circumstances and constraints of the case. Finally, you need to clearly state how and when your proposals will be implemented.

Your tutor and your course Assignment File can provide some guidelines on how to present your recommendations.

 

Some mistakes to avoid as you analyse cases

When you first tackle case studies, you should be careful to guard against the following mistakes:

  1. One of the most common mistakes made in case analysis is repeating or simply summarizing the facts of the case. Your tutor is already very familiar with the case details, so you do not have to restate them. You are required to use and analyse the facts, not repeat them. Your analysis should contain only enough case material to support your arguments. Therefore, be analytical!
  2. You may often be tempted to just deal with symptoms and ignore the causes of the problem. It is very important to analyse the background of the case (and the climate in which the events of the case unfold).
  3. Avoid discussing problems in isolation and do not overlook their interrelatedness. If you try to think in terms of ‘systems’ rather than in terms of individual problems, you are more likely to avoid this pitfall.
  4. Students often fail to state the assumptions underlying their analysis. If any important assumptions have been made, have you questioned them and are they reasonable and appropriate? Avoid selectively using and interpreting case material in order to justify a preconceived solution.
  5. Practical limitations and constraints may sometimes be overlooked. For example, a recommendation that a whole team be fired is probably unrealistic.
  6. A very common mistake is poor integration of the facts in the case with the concepts, principles, and theories in the textbook. Such integration is vital. Ask yourself if relevant theories from your course have been fully and constructively applied.
  7. Finally, recommendations are too often not spelled out in detail or are unrealistic. A timetable for implementing them is also often not given.

Analysing cases poses many challenges, and this is one reason the case study method is so rewarding. It is a very active form of learning. It offers you a risk-free opportunity to gain managerial and organizational experience and should greatly increase your confidence to make informed decisions in the real world.

Good luck and we hope you enjoy working through the cases that you encounter!

If you wish to defer your studies of this course until a later date, you should apply for deferment of studies. For the regulations governing deferment of studies, please refer to your Student Handbook. If you have applied for deferment of studies you should continue with your studies of this course and submit the required assignments until formal approval is given by the University. Should you have difficulties in submitting an assignment, you are advised to liaise with your Course Coordinator and apply for an assignment extension.

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