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Article

Access_open The 2015 Proposal for an EU Directive on the Societas Unius Personae (SUP)

Another Attempt to Square the Circle?

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2015
Keywords EU law harmonisation, single member private companies, Proposed SUP Directive, European ‘trade mark’
Authors Stephan Rammeloo
AbstractAuthor's information

    Stimulating business throughout the Single Market, not in the least for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), is one of the key priorities of the EU’s ten-year growth strategy, ‘Europe 2020’. One of the strategies to achieve this goal is the recently developed legal concept of a ‘European trademark’ for single member private limited liability companies duly established under the laws of any EU Member State and complying with preconditions required by a draft Proposal for a Directive on the Societas Unius Personae (SUP). The 2015 Compromising text, having replaced the initial 2014 Draft for a Directive requires to be analysed in view of its ‘scope’ (functional and geographical reach). Furthermore, attention is given to matters of formation and ‘long distance’ registration, share capital, internal organization and functioning of company organs, the functioning of SUP’s as stand alone companies or SUP’s embedded in company group or chain structures. Critical observations inter alia focus on relinquished provisions on the SUP’s seat as well as the powers of SUP organs and on ‘national law’ creeping in the Proposed Directive more and more at the cost of legal certainty and legal coherence between EU law instruments relevant to private limited liability companies.


Stephan Rammeloo
Associate Professor EU Company Law, Private International Law and Comparative Law, Maastricht University.
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 Ownership, Governance and Related Trade-Offs in Agricultural Cooperatives

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 4 2014
Keywords investment constraints, collective decision-making, organizational complexity, agricultural cooperative, residual ownership rights
Authors Constantine Iliopoulos
AbstractAuthor's information

    Agricultural cooperatives represent a key institutional arrangement in the world food and agriculture industries. Understanding these business organizations by adopting multi-disciplinary perspectives serves both scholarly and societal needs. This article addresses two issues: (1) how agricultural cooperatives choose from a plethora of ownership and governance features and (2) what are the main trade-offs cooperatives face in making these choices. Both issues have important implications for the efficiency of collective entrepreneurship organizations in food supply chains and thus for food nutrition security and food quality. The article proffers observations based on the extant literature and the author’s field experience. It is concluded that agricultural cooperatives choose ownership and governance features in an attempt to attract risk capital for investments while optimizing collective decision-making efficiency. The main trade-offs that cooperatives address while making these choices are between (1) investor mentality and member-patron control, (2) organizational complexity and vagueness of ownership rights, (3) the need for risk capital and member control, (4) organizational complexity and member control and (5) management monitoring costs and the costs of collective decision-making. These observations are highly relevant for organizational scholars, cooperative practitioners and policymakers as they inform decision-making in cooperatives in more than one way.


Constantine Iliopoulos
Dr. Iliopoulos is the Director of the Agricultural Economics Research Institute and Adjunct Professor at the Agricultural University of Athens, Athens, Greece. E-mail: iliopoulosC@agreri.gr.
Article

Access_open The EU Response to the Trade in Conflict Minerals from Central Africa

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2014
Keywords corporate social responsibility, conflict minerals, private regulation, public regulation, European Union
Authors Tomas Königs, Sohail Wahedi and Tjalling Waterbolk
AbstractAuthor's information

    The trade in conflict minerals has led to the eruption and conservation of conflicts and gross violations of human rights, in particular in the central African region. In response, various public and private entities have taken measures to counter this development. The purpose of this essay is to analyze how the European Union, in light of its promotion of corporate social responsibility, should regulate the behaviour of multinational companies dealing with minerals from conflict-ridden areas. In light of recent initiatives taken by the UN, the United States and the mineral-extraction industry, it is examined whether the EU should adopt public regulation or whether it should continue its promotion of private self-regulatory regimes. The authors argue that the EU should promote regulation at the level that provides the strongest incentive for companies to comply with their duties. This article shows that both private and public regulation have their limitations in regulating the trade in conflict minerals and that the EU should thus adopt a mix of both. In doing so, the development of transparency norms can be delegated to companies, stakeholders and other affected parties, while the EU could provide for an effective accountability mechanism to enforce these norms.


Tomas Königs
Tomas Königs is a graduate student of the Legal Research Master (LLM) at Utrecht University.

Sohail Wahedi
Sohail Wahedi is a graduate student of the Legal Research Master (LLM) at Utrecht University.

Tjalling Waterbolk
Tjalling Waterbolk is a graduate student of the Legal Research Master (LLM) at Utrecht University.
Article

Access_open Corporate Governance of Banks

Is More Board Independence the Solution?

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2013
Authors Edyta M. Dorenbos and Alessio M. Pacces
Author's information

Edyta M. Dorenbos
Research fellow, Tilburg Law School, Department of Business Law and European Banking Center, Tilburg School of Economics and Management, Tilburg University, the Netherlands.

Alessio M. Pacces
Professor of Law and Finance, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Research Associate, European Corporate Governance Institute. We thank Sarah van den Brand for valuable research assistance.
Article

Access_open Regulating Credit Rating Agencies in the European Union

Lessons from Behavioural Science

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2013
Keywords behavioural economics, credit rating agenies, lulling effect, neuroeconomics, due diligence
Authors Fabian Amtenbrink and Klaus Heine
AbstractAuthor's information

    Since the beginning of the global financial and economic crisis, the search for its causes has been in full flight on both sides of the Atlantic. Inter alia, fundamental failures in the evaluation of risk and the role that Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) play in the assessment of credit risk are discussed. More specifically, the question is raised as to what the role of CRAs is in the financial markets, why this role may be problematic and how the main weaknesses of the present system can be addressed in the European Union (EU) and elsewhere. This contribution does not aim to provide a discussion of all theoretical aspects that might be involved in an economic analysis of CRAs, but to better understand the main behavioural economics and normative arguments that may be related. Thereby, the current EU regulatory framework on CRAs and credit ratings will be scrutinized. The basic hypothesis of this contribution is that the current and proposed future EU regulatory framework does not fully succeed in effectively tackling failures in the CRA market, because insights from behavioural economics are widely neglected.


Fabian Amtenbrink
Dr. Amtenbrink is Professor of European Union Law at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He is also Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Bruges).

Klaus Heine
Dr. Heine is Professor of Law and Economics and Jean Monnet Chair of Economic Analysis of European Law at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Article

Access_open Climate Change

A Major Challenge and a Serious Threat to Enterprises

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2013
Keywords volgt
Authors Elbert R. de Jong and Jaap Spier
AbstractAuthor's information

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Elbert R. de Jong
Elbert de Jong is PhD candidate at the Molengraaff Institute for Private Law, Utrecht University.

Jaap Spier
Jaap Spier is Advocate-General in the Supreme Court of The Netherlands and Honorary Professor at Maastricht University.
Editorial

Access_open Validity and Compatibility of the SAM and KLD Screening Instruments

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2012
Keywords Corporate sustainability performance (measurement), screening instruments, sustainability rating agencies, Sustainable Asset Management (SAM), Corporate Sustainability Analysis Framework (CSAF), sustainability (reporting) guidelines, content analysis, Sustainability Items
Authors Egbert Dommerholt
AbstractAuthor's information

    The discussion about corporate sustainability performance already has a rich and longstanding history.Todate corporate sustainability performance is a key issue in many companies. However, when asked what it means or how to apply this construct in a concrete business context, many entrepreneurs and managers are not able to give an answer. This confusion may be due to the multitude of definitions and descriptions of corporate sustainability performance constructs.To get a better understanding of corporate sustainability performance and to help companies shape their corporate sustainability performance, a plenitude of (reporting) guidelines are available today. However, because of a rich variation in foci, these guidelines also contribute to the corporate sustainability performance confusion among business people.Companies are no longer solely judged on the financial performance, but they also have to account for their sustainability performance to a variety of stakeholders. However, along with the increasing attention of stakeholders for corporate sustainability performance, the number of organizations that assessing companies’ governance, social, ecological and economic performance also increasesThe aim of this paper is to research the validity and compatibility of the screening instruments of two widely respected sustainability rating agencies: the Zurich (Switzerland) based Sustainable Asset Management Group (SAM) and the Boston (USA) based KLD analytics, Inc (KLD). These screening instruments are benchmarked against the Corporate Sustainability Analysis Framework designed and developed by Dommerholt 2009. The results suggest that the SAM and KLD instruments are imperfect measures of corporate sustainability performance, implying that the validity of these measures is questionable. The results also show that the screening instruments are not really compatible indicating that these instruments cannot be used interchangeably because of differences in the underlying conceptions of corporate sustainability performance. Therefore we can say that these screening instruments too seem to add to the confusions surrounding corporate sustainability performance (measurement).


Egbert Dommerholt
Lecturer at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen and research associate at the Institute of Corporate Law, Governance and Innovation Policy (ICGI) of the Maastricht University.
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