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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 Transnationalization of Agricultural Cooperatives in Europe

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 4 2014
Keywords agriculture, agrifood, cooperatives, internationalization, transnationalization
Authors Jos Bijman, Perttu Pyykkönen and Petri Ollila
AbstractAuthor's information

    Agricultural cooperatives in Europe are increasingly expanding beyond their home countries. A number of these cooperatives have become transnational cooperatives, which means that they have members in more than one country. Examples can be found particularly in the dairy and fruit and vegetables industry. This article presents an overview of the recent internationalization and transnationalization processes among agricultural cooperatives in Europe and is the first academic publication that provides empirical data on cross-border membership. The article discusses the pros and cons of having members in several countries, as well as the different trajectories along which cooperatives may become transnational. Transnationalization entails substantial challenges for the member-cooperative relationship due to differences in culture, language, legislation and business practices. The professional management usually prefers an internationalization strategy above a transnationalization strategy. While further internationalization of agricultural cooperatives is expected, foreign membership will continue to be a major challenge for boards of directors.


Jos Bijman
Dr. Jos Bijman, Management Studies Group, Wageningen University.

Perttu Pyykkönen
Dr. Perttu Pyykkönen, Pellervo Economic Research PTT, Helsinki.

Petri Ollila
Dr. Petri Ollila, Department of Economics and Management, University of Helsinki.
Article

Access_open How to Regulate Cooperatives in the EU?

A Theory of Path Dependency

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 4 2014
Keywords cooperative law, company law, EU harmonization, business form, governance
Authors Ger J.H. van der Sangen
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, the phenomenon of path dependency has been addressed in view of the harmonization of cooperative law in the EU. The question is raised whether and how the legislative harmonization has an impact on co-operators in their efforts of setting up and maintaining efficient cooperative organizations and whether in this respect the Statute for the European Cooperative Society (hereinafter: SCE) is a helpful tool to facilitate the enhancement of national statutes on cooperatives as well as to provide the legal infrastructure to facilitate cross-border cooperation amongst and reorganizations of cooperatives in the EU.
    The case for the cooperative as a viable business form gained momentum in the EU policy debate with the development of the SCE Statute in 2003, the outbreak of the financial and economic crisis in 2008 and with the endorsement of the cooperative business concept by the United Nations and the International Labour Organization in 2012. If the sound development of cooperatives as an alternative legal business form vis-à-vis investor-owned firms is considered a policy instrument to enhance societal business activities – notably in the field of agriculture and social economy – it raises the question how cooperatives should be regulated to fulfil their function in this respect.
    The key argument presented in this article is that due to strong tendencies of path dependency a top-down approach of EU law-making was and is not a feasible option. The cooperative as a multifaceted institution requires a multifaceted approach taking into account the historical legislative developments of distinctive jurisdictions as well as the historical economic development of cooperative organizations in their specific jurisdiction. However, the existence of path dependency and the lack of regulatory arbitrage as well as regulatory competition prevent the market from generating efficient model statutes for cooperatives taking into account the specific needs of cooperatives and their co-operators.


Ger J.H. van der Sangen
Dr Ger J.H. van der Sangen is Associate Professor Company Law and Securities Law at Tilburg Law School, Department Business Law. He was part of the research team of the EU-funded project Support for Farmers’ Cooperatives. He would like to express his gratitude to all the members of the research team for sharing their insights and discussions during conference meetings in Brussels (November 2011 and 2012) and in Helsinki (June 2012), in particular J. Bijman, C. Gijselinckx, G. Hendrikse, C. Iliopoulos and K. Poppe.
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).

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.
Article

Access_open Contracts for the International Sale of Goods

Recent Developments at the International and European Level

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2014
Keywords CISG, CESL, contract for the international sale of goods, jurisdiction, standard terms
Authors Dr. S.A. Kruisinga
AbstractAuthor's information

    In the globalizing economy, national borders seem to have disappeared. However, when determining which law will apply to a commercial transaction, the opposite seems true. In 1980, the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (hereafter the CISG) was specifically drafted to apply to contracts for the international sale of goods. Recently, the European Commission also published a document containing provisions that can apply to contracts for the international sale of goods: the Proposal for a Regulation on a Common European Sales Law. This paper compares the scope of application of these legal regimes, it compares the regulation of standard terms in both regimes and addresses the provisions in the EU Regulation on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (Brussels I), which are of relevance for contracts for the international sale of goods which do not contain a valid dispute settlement clause.


Dr. S.A. Kruisinga
Dr. S.A. Kruisinga is Associate Professor at the Molengraaff Institute of Private Law, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.
Article

Access_open Corporate Governance and the Great Recession

An Alternative Explanation for Germany's Success in the Post-2008 World

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2014
Keywords Great Recession, Germany, corporate governance, institutional complementarity, EMU
Authors Pavlos E. Masouros
AbstractAuthor's information

    The ability of a nation to resist a crisis depends on the institutional or spatio-temporal fixes it possesses, which can buffer the effects of the crisis, switch the crisis to other nations or defer its effects to the future. Corporate governance configurations in a given country can function as institutional or spatio-temporal fixes provided they are positioned within an appropriate institutional environment that can give rise to beneficial complementarities.
    Germany seems to resist most effectively compared with other nations (be it nations of the insider or the outsider model of corporate governance) the effects of the post-2008 crisis. This article posits that this is due to an institutional complementarity between Germany's corporate governance system, its system of industrial relations and the monetary institutions of the European Monetary Union. The advent of shareholder value has blended in a beneficial way with an established system of cooperative collective bargaining, with traditional stakeholderist institutions, but also with the asymmetrical design of the EMU that benefits trade surplus countries, and this institutional complementarity has endowed Germany with a comparative advantage over other nations (particularly EU Member States) to pursue its export-led growth strategy and emerge as a champion economy amidst the crisis.


Pavlos E. Masouros
Assistant Professor of Corporate Law, Leiden University, The Netherlands; Attorney-at-Law, Athens, Greece.
Article

Access_open The Regulation of Rating Agencies in Europe

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2013
Keywords Credit Rating Agencies, Regulation No. 1060/2009, ESMA, sovereign ratings, complex products ratings
Authors Edith Weemaels
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article presents the current and future statutory framework for ratings agencies in Europe. The recent financial and economic crises dealt a fatal blow to this practice and the EU clearly intends to progress as quickly as possible when it comes to the regulation of credit rating agencies. This article examines the possibility that new EU framework serve to strengthen the position of credit rating agencies through the elimination of their unquestioned role in the markets. The author also presents existing and future European regulations and analyses the establishment and implementation of prudential supervision of the rating activity.


Edith Weemaels
Lawyer – Brussels Bar, Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick (Brussels), e.weemaels@liedekerke.com.

    In this article a non-binding global standard for solution of cross-border insolvency proceedings is introduced. These Global Principles for Cooperation in International Insolvency Cases can be used both in civil-law as well as common-law jurisdictions, and aim to cover all jurisdictions in the world. They are addressed to judges, insolvency practitioners and scholars, and aim to contribute to an improved global architecture of international insolvency.


Bob Wessels
Prof. Dr. Bob Wessels is an independent legal counsel in Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and professor International Insolvency Law, University of Leiden, School of Law. He can be reached at: info@bobwessels.nl.
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