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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 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 Can Corporate Law on Groups Assist Groups to Effectively Address Climate Change?

A Cross-Jurisdictional Analysis of Barriers and Useful Domestic Corporate Law Approaches Concerning Group Identification and Managing a Common Climate Change Policy

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 3 2014
Authors Tineke Lambooy and Jelena Stamenkova van Rumpt
Author's information

Tineke Lambooy
Tineke Lambooy is Professor Corporate Law at Nyenrode Business University and Associate Professor Corporate Social Responsibility at Utrecht University.

Jelena Stamenkova van Rumpt
Jelena Stamenkova van Rumpt, LLM, is Advisor Responsible Investment at PGGM (Dutch Asset Manager for Pension Funds).
Article

Access_open Insurance as a Remedy against Financial Crisis

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2014
Keywords financial crisis, systemic risk, insurance
Authors Michael Faure and Klaus Heine
AbstractAuthor's information

    To some extent, the financial crisis could be considered as comparable to a natural catastrophe. We address the question whether it might be possible to insure against financial crisis, similarly as insurance is possible in case of natural catastrophes. Thereby we extend the market mechanism as far as possible by proposing a three-layered insurance model containing self-insurance, insurance by insurance companies and insurance by the government. We argue that an advantage of this multi-layered structure is not only the provision of funds in case of a financial crisis, but also that it helps to prevent financial crisis. The preventive effect is due to market-driven check and balances between the three layers.


Michael Faure
Michael Faure is Professor of Comparative Private Law and Economics at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 3000DR Rotterdam and METRO, Maastricht University, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Klaus Heine
Klaus Heine is Jean Monnet Chair of Economic Analysis of European Law at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 3000DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Article

Access_open The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct

Soft Law with Hard Consequences

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 4 2013
Keywords Corporate Social Responsibility, Responsible Business Conduct, Supply chain responsibility, Labor standards, Human rights
Authors Roel Nieuwenkamp
AbstractAuthor's information

    OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are the most comprehensive international public standard on all areas of CSR with 46 adherent governments. The unique feature of the Guidelines is its grievance mechanism. The National Contact Points for the OECD Guidelines serve as a complaints and problem solving mechanism for trade unions and NGO’s related to for example human rights and labor standards. Since 2011 the Guidelines apply not only to investments but also to global supply chains. The concept of CSR Due Diligence in the supply chains is now a key pillar of CSR.


Roel Nieuwenkamp
Prof. Dr. Roel Nieuwenkamp is Chair of the OECD Working Party on Responsible Business Conduct. In this capacity, he supervises the corporate responsibility work of the OECD, invests in outreach to non-adherent countries and provides leadership to CSR programmes, e.g. on the financial sector, mining sector, etc. Since 2010, he is part-time professor of public administration at the University of Amsterdam.
Article

Access_open Better Access to Remedy in Company-Community Conflicts in the Field of CSR

A Model for Company-Based Grievance Mechanisms

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 4 2013
Keywords CSR, human rights, grievance mechanism, interest-based approach, rights-based approach
Authors Cristina Cedillo
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, John Ruggie, establishes access to remedy as one of the three pillars of the UN ‘Protect, Respect, Remedy’ Framework. In this Framework, Ruggie prescribes that company-based grievance mechanisms can be one effective means of enabling remediation to those potentially being impacted by business enterprises’ activities. This report proposes a model for company-based grievance mechanisms that follow a combination of interest-based and rights-compatible approaches to conflict resolution of all corporate social responsibility issues in company–stakeholder relationships.


Cristina Cedillo
Cristina Cedillo (MA, LLM) participated in the master’s programme in International Business Law and Globalization at the Utrecht University School of Law, Economics and Governance, Utrecht (The Netherlands). The author is very grateful to Serge Bronkhorst and Tineke Lambooy for their guidance and helpful comments on earlier drafts.
Article

Access_open A Description of the Historical Developments in Standard Setting and Regulations for Auditors and the Audit Firms in an International Perspective

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2013
Keywords Audit profession, international audit regulations, public-interest entities, historical developments
Authors Paul van der Zanden and Peter M. van der Zanden
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article discusses the historical developments within the audit profession as well as the developments in the rules and regulations relating to this profession. It does so in an international perspective. The authors compare the traditionally more Anglo-Saxon oriented approach with the traditionally more continental European approach. They discuss the influence and impact of these different approaches on each other as well as the impact of this process on regulation on a European level and implementation thereof on a local level. The developments in the Netherlands, which evidence this process, are used as an illustration. Throughout the article the authors also make some critical observations and notes with respect to the developments discussed.


Paul van der Zanden
Paul van der Zanden, Attorney at law, Banning N.V.

Peter M. van der Zanden
Peter M. van der Zanden, Emeritus professor Financial Accounting and former partner Ernst & Young.
Article

Access_open Public and Private Regulation

Mapping the Labyrinth

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2012
Keywords private regulation, regulatory impact assessment, standard-setting, voluntary certification, sustainabbility reporting, effectiveness indicators, governance indicators
Authors Fabrizio Cafaggi and Andrea Renda
AbstractAuthor's information

    Private governance is currently being evoked as a viable solution to many public policy goals. However, in some circumstances it has shown to produce more harm than good, and even disastrous consequences like in the case of the financial crisis that is raging in most advanced economies. Although the current track record of private regulatory schemes is mixed, policy guidance documents around the world still require that policymakers award priority to self- and co-regulation, with little or no additional guidance being given to policymakers to devise when, and under what circumstances, these solutions can prove viable from a public policy perspective. With an array of examples from several policy fields, this paper approaches regulation as a public-private collaborative form and attempts to identify possible policy tools to be applied by public policymakers to efficiently and effectively approach private governance as a solution, rather than a problem. We propose a six-step theoretical framework and argue that IA techniques should: (i) define an integrated framework including both the possibility that private regulation can be used as an alternative or as a complement to public legislation; (ii) Involve private parties in public IAs in order to define the best strategy or strategies that would ensure achievement of the regulatory objectives; and (iii) Contemplate the deployment of indicators related to governance and activities of the regulators and their ability to coordinate and solve disputes with other regulators.


Fabrizio Cafaggi
European University Institute, Fiesole Università di Trento (F. Cafaggi).

Andrea Renda
LUISS Guido Carli, Rome; Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels; European University Institute, Fiesole (A. Renda).
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