Assume a large public company. Would the director, or majority share holders of a company be able to legally refuse service to a share holder (on non protected-class grounds)? Would the quantity of shares owned have any difference?

I'm asking in regards to UK law, but would be interested to hear if it's any different in the states.

  • It would be helpful to have more facts. Are we talking a restaurant, a steel supplier or a bank? Are we talking about a business to business deal, or a consumer transaction with a small individual investor? Law is not physics. It does not operate on general, universal principles. Details influence outcomes.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 28, 2018 at 20:46

1 Answer 1


This is from a Canadian point of view, but the rules regarding how corporations run is generally pretty standard. I took a few classes in corporate governance, but I'm working mostly from memory, so hopefully most of the information is accurate!

A corporation is its own entity, separate from any shareholders, and it can make whatever policies it wants. Unless you are an officer or on the board of directors, your participation in the company usually will be limited to voting in shareholders' meetings and receiving dividends. Refusal of service is a policy matter, so the fact that you are a shareholder (or anyone else, for that matter!) should be irrelevant. In fact, you might be denied service because you're an officer due to conflicts of interest.

If the company was unincorporated, you may have more rights, but you'd probably be subject to some sort of agreement.

  • This is about as right as one can get. Outside of what is named above, shareholders have next to nothing to do with anything a corporation does. I recently read a Forbes article on the myth of corporate ownership that touched on this.
    – A.fm.
    Jul 29, 2018 at 3:32

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