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The Dovenschmidt Quarterly

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Issue 3, 2013 Expand all abstracts
Editorial

Access_open Editorial

Article

Access_open The Opacity of a Multinational Company’s Organization, Legal Structure and Power

What Type of Corporate Information Must a Multinational Company Make Public Pursuant to Dutch Law? Options for Improving Dutch Law: Better Access to Corporate Information for Stakeholders

Keywords transparency, CSR disclosure, corporate legal structure, legal framework for corporate reporting, integrated reporting
Authors Tineke E. Lambooy, Rosalien A. Diepeveen, Kim Nguyen e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article describes the types of information that a multinational company must make public pursuant to Book 2 of the Dutch Civil Code, the Act on Financial Supervision and the Commercial Registers Act. We ascertain that: (i) the Dutch Trade Register fails in providing adequate information about the foreign parts of a group; (ii) the annual reporting laws fail to require companies to provide an insight in the group legal structure, the business organization and the corporate social responsibility profile of a multinational company; and (iii) the Act on Financial Supervision fails to include disclosure requirements regarding the corporate social responsibility profile of a listed company. Different possible legislative amendments are provided in this article that could enhance transparency concerning a Dutch multinational company’s business organization, the legal structure and its corporate social responsibility profile, so that corporate information is better accessible for stakeholders. We conclude that most of these improvements are not limited to the Dutch legal system, but can be seen in the light of a global trend of increased corporate transparency. With this article, we hope to contribute to a new mind-set whereby transparency is stimulated, by offering concrete (policy) tools.


Tineke E. Lambooy
Dr. T.E. Lambooy, LL.M., is an associate professor at Utrecht University’s Molengraaff Institute for Private Law and at Nyenrode Business University’s Center for Sustainability. She is the author of Corporate Social Responsibility. Legal and Semi-Legal Frameworks Supporting CSR (Kluwer, 2010).

Rosalien A. Diepeveen

Kim Nguyen
P.K. Nguyen obtained her LL.M. degree at Utrecht University Law School.

Sander van ’t Foort
R.A. Diepeveen and S. van ’t Foort are currently pursuing an LL.M. degree at Utrecht University Law School. The authors are very grateful to R. Hordijk, LL.M., for supporting them in the research on this topic and to K. Hooft, LL.M., for reviewing the draft contribution.
Article

Access_open Multinationals and Transparency in Foreign Direct Liability Cases

The Prospects for Obtaining Evidence under the Dutch Civil Procedural Regime on the Production of Exhibits

Keywords foreign direct liability, corporate social responsibility, transparency document disclosure, Dutch Shell Nigeria case
Authors Liesbeth F.H. Enneking
AbstractAuthor's information

    On 30 January 2013, the The Hague district court rendered a final judgment with respect to a number of civil liability claims against Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) and its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) that had been pursued by four Nigerian farmers and the Dutch NGO Milieudefensie in relation to various oil spills from SPDC-operated pipelines in the Nigerian Niger Delta. This case is the first Dutch example of a broader, worldwide trend towards similar transnational civil liability procedures against multinational corporations for harm caused to people and planet in developing host countries. This worldwide trend towards so-called ‘foreign direct liability cases’ and the Dutch Shell Nigeria case in particular raise many interesting socio-political as well as legal questions. This article will focus on the question what the prospects are for plaintiffs seeking to pursue such claims before a Dutch court when it comes to obtaining evidence under the Dutch civil procedural regime on the production of exhibits. This is a highly relevant question, since the proceedings in the Dutch Shell Nigeria case seem to indicate that the relatively restrictive Dutch regime on the production of exhibits in civil procedures may potentially impose a structural barrier on the access to remedies before Dutch courts of the victims of corporate violations of people and planet abroad.


Liesbeth F.H. Enneking
Liesbeth Enneking is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UCALL, Utrecht University’s multidisciplinary Centre for Accountability and Liability Law, and an Assistant Professor of Private International Law at Utrecht University’s Molengraaff Institute for Private Law. The author would like to thank prof. I. Giesen for comments on an earlier version of this article.
Article

Access_open Multinational Corporations and Human Rights

Civil Procedure as a Means of Obtaining Transparency

Keywords civil litigation, discovery, human rights, multinationals
Authors R.R. Verkerk
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article explores the degree in which civil procedural rules may promote transparancy from multinationals about human rights policies and allegations of human rights violations.


R.R. Verkerk
Remme Verkerk practices law at Houthoff Buruma (Rotterdam).
Article

Access_open The Conflict Minerals Rule

Private Alternatives?

Keywords corporate social responsibility, conflict minerals, codes of conduct, contract law
Authors A.L. Vytopil
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article discusses Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act in respect of the transparency certain American companies are to provide in respect of conflict minerals and the Rule drawn up by the Securities and Exchange Commission following this legislation. It explains the requirements it poses on companies. Moreover, it highlights some of the societal criticism in respect of the Securities and Exchange Commission Rule, the legal challenge of this Rule and the subsequent court verdict by the District Court for the District of Columbia. Finally, it elaborates upon private regulatory initiatives that could provide viable alternatives to conflict minerals legislation, and it concludes that for the Netherlands, private regulation would probably be more effective than legislation comparable to Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act.


A.L. Vytopil
Louise Vytopil, LL.B MA MSc, is a Ph.D.-candidate and assistant-professor at Utrecht University’s Molengraaff Institute for Private Law.
Article

Access_open The Need for Transparent Multinationals

Authors Joris Oldenziel and Heleen Tiemersma
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Dutch non-profit Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and Amnesty International – Netherlands (AI-NL) commissioned in 2012 a study on transparency of multinational enterprises to the Utrecht University’s Molengraaff Institute for Private Law. With this study SOMO and AI-NL aim to substantiate the need for enhancing corporate transparency in order to stimulate responsible business conduct and be able to hold companies to account for adverse impacts they cause or contribute to.


Joris Oldenziel
Joris Oldenziel is program manager and senior researcher at the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO).

Heleen Tiemersma
Heleen Tiemersma is business and human rights specialist at Amnesty International.
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