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Article

Access_open The Norm of Integrity in Corporate Governance Codes: Could It Be Made Enforceable?

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2015
Keywords corporate governance, integrity, legal strategies, Goldman Sachs
Authors B.T.M. Steins Bisschop
AbstractAuthor's information

    The faring of Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis of 2008 is discussed against the background of legal instruments that were employed to avoid its failure. This discussion leads to the conclusion that in this case, the limits of classical legal instruments were reached. To further good corporate governance, the legal relevance of the term ‘integrity’ is explored. It is concluded that the legal term of integrity is used universally in corporate governance codes, but is not operational and therefore not enforceable. An attempt is made to redefine this general principle into a more operational term. This is tested in the case of Goldman Sachs’ executive Jon Winkelried. It is assumed that he has violated the standard of integrity but also that there were no enforceable legal means to sanction his behaviour. The conclusion is that the more operational interpretation of the term integrity could, in this case, have resulted in an enforceable legal instrument to sanction behaviour that is contrary to the norm of integrity. This operational term of integrity could aid in the debate on furthering good corporate governance through enforceable legal strategies.


B.T.M. Steins Bisschop
Prof. Dr. Bas T.M. Steins Bisschop holds a chair Corporate Law and Governance at the Faculty of Law of Maastricht University and a chair Corporate Law at Nyenrode Business University. He is partner of a boutique law firm in The Hague, The Netherlands.
Article

Access_open From Individuals to Organizations: The Puzzle of Organizational Liability in Tort Law

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2015
Keywords organizational liability, tort law, organizational design, organizational wrongdoing, law and economics
Authors Klaus Heine and Kateryna Grabovets
AbstractAuthor's information

    Organizational accidents have two generic sources: individual wrongdoings and organizational failures. Economic analysis of tort law is methodologically based on the “fiction” (Gordon 2013) of a rational individual, from which “simple rules for a complex world” (Epstein 1995) are derived. As a result, organizational wrongdoing boils down to a simple principal-agent problem, neglecting the complexity of organizational reality. We shed more light on organizational factors as a separate trigger of organizational wrongdoing. We take an interdisciplinary perspective on the problem, which challenges traditional economic analysis of tort law with insights drawn from organizational science. Moreover, we demonstrate how tort law and economic analysis can be enriched with these insights.


Klaus Heine
Prof. Dr. Klaus Heine (Corresponding author), Jean Monnet Chair of Economic Analysis of European Law, Erasmus School of Law – RILE, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, Room J6-59, Postbus 1738, NL-3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Tel: 0031 (0)10 4082691; Fax: 0031 (0)10 4089191.

Kateryna Grabovets
Dr. Kateryna Grabovets, Rotterdam Business School (RBS), Rotterdam University of​Applied‍ Sci‍ences,‍ Kralingse Zoom 91, Room C3.121, 3063 ND Rotterdam; P.O. Box 25035, 3001 HA Rotterdam, The Netherlands.​Tel:‍ 0031‍ (0)10‍ 7946243. k.a.grabovets@hr.nl
Article

Access_open Corporate Social Responsibility via Shareholders’ Proposals

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2015
Keywords corporate social responsibility, shareholders, Rule 14a-8, social proposals, strategy
Authors Maria Paz Godoy Uson
AbstractAuthor's information

    Can shareholders’ proposals be considered as a mainstream alternative to incorporate social and environmental policies into the core businesses strategy? Proposing non-financial resolutions at the general meeting of shareholders is a form of shareholders’ activism that is shaping company’s direction. The American court case Lovenheim v. Iroquois Brands, Ltd. confirms that social and environmental issues, when significantly related to the core business, can give rise to new business directions firmly promoted by shareholders, resting authorial power to the board of directors in conducting the company’s direction. The US SEC Rule 14a-8 is widely used by social activists and institutional investors to influence the direction of business in becoming more sustainable. In virtue of the American Rule 14a-8, shareholders may include proposals in the company’s proxy materials and, thereby, compel a vote on the issue at the annual shareholders’ meeting. The result is that American shareholders’ proposals are being considered as an effective gateway to improve corporations’ social and environmental behaviour. This article examines, from a comparative perspective, the further developments of shareholders’ social proposals with the attempt to incorporate social and environmental policies into the core business. The article also suggests that the increasing demand of social proposals promoted by American shareholders versus the limited activity of shareholders’ proposals in Continental European jurisdictions is precipitating the process of converge between the main corporate governance models; the shareholder-oriented model and the stakeholder-oriented model, respectively. The issue of CSR via shareholders’ proposals as presented here is primarily based on literature and various cases related to SEC 14a-8, more in particular on lessons drawn from Lovenheim v. Iroquois Brands, Ltd.


Maria Paz Godoy Uson
PhD Fellow Maastricht University.
Article

Access_open The Essential Role of Cooperative Law

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 4 2014
Keywords comparative cooperative law, organizational law, mutual purpose, cooperative identity, social function
Authors Antonio Fici
AbstractAuthor's information

    The idea that cooperative law is essential for the development of cooperatives is not new, but only lately is it spreading rapidly within cooperative circles and urging representative entities of the cooperative movement to take concrete actions. Also in light of this renewed interest towards the cooperative legal theory, this article will seek to demonstrate that recognizing and protecting a distinct identity based on a specific purpose constitute the essential role of cooperative law. The article will subsequently discuss, also from a comparative legal perspective, the nature and essence of the cooperative purpose and some related regulation issues.


Antonio Fici
Professor of Private Law at the University of Molise and of Comparative Cooperative Law at the L.U.M.S.A. of Rome.
Article

Access_open Parental Liability for Externalities of Subsidiaries

Domestic and Extraterritorial Approaches

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 3 2014
Keywords company law, group liability, comparative approach, liability matrix, statutory/judicial approaches
Authors Linn Anker-Sørensen
AbstractAuthor's information

    This paper offers a structural tool for examining various parental liability approaches for the externalities of its subsidiaries, meaning in the context of this paper, the negative environmental impact of their operations. In order to conclude that the parent is liable for externalities of subsidiaries, one must be able to bypass the corporate privileges of separate legal personality and limited liability, either within traditional company law or within alternative approaches offered by notably tort and environmental law. The overall acceptance of companies within groups as single entities, instead of recognition of their factual, often closely interlinked economic relationship, is a well-known barrier within traditional company law. The situation is exacerbated by the general lack of an extraterritorial liability approach and of enforcement of the rare occurrences of such liability within the traditional company law context. This paper explores various liability approaches found in jurisdictions worldwide mainly based on mapping papers from the international Sustainable Companies Project. The author introduces a matrix in order to systemize the different approaches, distinguishing between three levels: domestic and extraterritorial, statutory and judicial and indirect and direct liability. A proper distinction between the different liability approaches can be valuable in order to identify the main barriers to group liability in regulation and in jurisprudence.


Linn Anker-Sørensen
Research assistant in the Research Group Companies, Markets, Society and the Environment and its Sustainable Companies Project, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo (jus.uio.no/companies under Projects).

Michel Kallipetis
Michel Kallipetis QC FCIArb is the former Head of Littleton Chambers, and has 40 years’ experience as a practising barrister in the field of general commercial, professional negligence and employment work.
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