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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 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 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).
Article

Access_open EU Law Reform: Cross-Border Civil and Commercial Procedural Law and Cross-Border Insolvency Law

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2014
Keywords Private International Law, Commercial and Insolvency Law, EU Law reforms
Authors S.F.G. Rammeloo
AbstractAuthor's information

    Business contractors increasingly find themselves involved in a private or commercial law relationship with cross-border elements. In case commercial disputes have to be adjudicated in court proceedings questions to be answered are: the court of which legal order has competence, the law of which country shall be applied, and is a court order from a foreign legal order enforceable or not? The strive for a (European) Single Market presupposes the breaking down of (procedural as well as substantive) legal barriers emanating from the cross-border nature of private law relationships, notably business transactions.
    This contribution, concentrating on tomorrow’s European PIL in notably the area of civil procedural law, highlights the first and the third question from the perspective of the upcoming entry into force (10 January 2015) of EU Regulation No. 1215/2012 concerning jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters and the proposed amendments to EU Regulation No. 1346/2000 on cross-border Insolvency Proceedings.


S.F.G. Rammeloo
Associate Professor EU Private International Law and Comparative Company Law – Faculty of Law, Maastricht University, the Netherlands.

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 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 Business Enterprises and the Environment

Corporate Environmental Responsibility

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 4 2013
Keywords Corporate Environmental Responsibility, Environmental Due Diligence, Environmental CSR, Business enterprises and the environment, Environmental complement to Ruggie Framework
Authors Katinka D. Jesse and Erik V. Koppe
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2011, following his 2005 initial mandate of the UN Commission on Human Rights and his extended 2008 mandate of the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on the issues of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, Professor John Ruggie, issued the final text of the ‘Guiding Principles for the Implementation of the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework”‘. The 2008 Framework on Business and Human Rights and the complementing 2011 Guiding Principles consist of three pillars: the duty of states to protect human rights, the responsibility of business enterprises to respect human rights, and access to remedies for victims of human rights abuses. They currently qualify as the dominant paradigm in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) discourse, also because they now form part of various soft law and self-regulation initiatives. The Framework and Guiding Principles do not, however, specifically focus on environmental issues, but their systematic approach and structure do provide a model to address state duties and business responsibilities to care of the environment. This article is intended to complement the UN Framework and Guiding Principles on business and human rights with principles in the field of business and the environment. Hence, it is submitted that states have a customary duty to care for the environment; it is similarly submitted that business enterprises have a responsibility to care for the environment; and it is submitted that stakeholders must have access to remedies in relation to breaches of these duties and responsibilities.


Katinka D. Jesse
Dr. Katinka D. Jesse is post-doctoral research fellow at North-West University, South Africa.

Erik V. Koppe
Dr. Erik V. Koppe is assistant professor of public international law at Leiden Law School, The Netherlands. This article is partly based on research conducted by Jesse and Koppe as HUGO Fellows at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in Wassenaar in the fall of 2011.
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

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 3 2013
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 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 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 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.
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 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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