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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 Directors’ Disqualification in the Netherlands

An International Comparative Re-Evaluation of an Amended Disqualification Proposal

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2015
Keywords directors’ disqualification, directors’ liability, fraud, company law, insolvency law
Authors Tom Reker
AbstractAuthor's information

    In response to the effects of the global financial crisis on bankruptcy tendencies and the role of fraudulent company directors within that context, the Dutch government has introduced a proposal for a civil law directors’ disqualification instrument. This proposal aims to prevent both fraudulent conduct (by barring directors) and financial harm to corporate stakeholders, as well as to safeguard competitiveness and the trust which is necessary for effective trade. The fact that Dutch criminal law already allows for disqualification of directors in certain circumstances, which are partly similar to those in the proposal, raises doubts about the necessity of a civil law equivalent. This article concludes that the current proposal seems to have lost value vis-à-vis an earlier draft due to alterations to the disqualification and exculpation criteria, which may result in an overlap of the civil law and criminal law instruments. Consequently, there is a more pressing need for demarcation and reallocation of certain aspects of the proposal. By comparing the proposal with foreign (UK, US, Australian and German) counterparts, several suggestions are formulated to both counteract the overlap which the proposal may cause in Dutch law and to contribute to a model of effective disqualification instruments in general.


Tom Reker
Tom Reker recently graduated from the Leiden Law School, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands. Email: tomreker_1@hotmail.com.
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 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 The Consolidation of Assets and Liabilities within Company Groups

Can South African Company Law Learn from New Zealand’s Company Law?

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 3 2014
Keywords groups, limited liability, veil piercing, consolidation, pooling
Authors Richard Stevens
AbstractAuthor's information

    Limited liability is one of the cornerstones of company law. This is also the case where companies form part of a group of companies with one controlling holding company. In South African law, as in most jurisdictions, there are exceptions to limited liability. These exceptions usually lead to the piercing of the veil between the company and its shareholders. In New Zealand company law the legislature has introduced measures to enable courts to consolidate or pool together the assets and liabilities of companies within a group in cases of liquidation of one/all of the companies in the group of companies. This article investigates whether South African company law should consider introducing these New Zealand measures into South African company law to better protect creditors of the liquidated company. The article concludes that the New Zealand measures could serve as a useful presumption to enable courts to consolidate assets and liabilities within a group of companies in cases of liquidation of one or all the companies in the group.


Richard Stevens
Senior lecturer, University of Stellenbosch; BA LLB (Stellenbosch), LLM (Tübingen) and LLD (Stellenbosch). Attorney of the High Court of South Africa.
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.

Martijn Scheltema
Martijn Scheltema is partner with Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn (a The Hague-based law firm), professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam and member of the governing board of ACCESS (see <www.ACCESSfacility.org>). This article is based on research conducted by the author on effectiveness of remedy outcomes of non-judicial mechanisms on behalf of ACCESS and the United Nations Working Group on Human Rights.
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 Microfinance: Dreams and Reality

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2013
Keywords microfinance, economic development, microfinance success, Institutions, law and economics
Authors Katherine Helen Mary Hunt
AbstractAuthor's information

    Microfinance is an area of research whose popularity is reflected by the unique potential for wide-ranging socioeconomic outcomes that support political goals unmatched by alternative avenues for financial support. However, despite the large amounts of financial resources funding microfinance across the world, and glorious potential economic benefits, there is no consensus regarding the success or failure of microfinance in achieving socioeconomic political goals. This article examines the empirical literature on microfinance to establish where microfinance has developed from, the organization of microfinance institutions (MFIs), the success or failure of microfinance, and future research methodological possibilities. It has been found that the success or failure of microfinance depends on the benchmarks to which it is measured. From a social empowerment perspective, microfinance success has been observed. However, from an economic development perspective the results are equivocal. The success of microfinance is related to the mission of DQ because of the interdisciplinary approach to research and the effects of microfinance across social and economic fields. Further, microfinance continues to be an avenue for the practical realization of corporate social responsibility (CSR) organizational goals and thus it is of relevance to evaluate success in this industry to ensure the efficient and continued achievement of political goals.


Katherine Helen Mary Hunt
Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics.
Article

Access_open The Quest for Behavioural Antitrust

Beyond the Label Battle, Towards a Cognitive Approach

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2013
Keywords antitrust, behavioural economics, cognitive economics and law, predatory pricing, intent
Authors Luca Arnaudo
AbstractAuthor's information

    Over the past two decades behavioural economics has gained widespread consensus, and, as a consequence, is affecting many areas of law and economics. Antitrust is currently providing an interesting case study of this cultural-academic trend with a growing number of articles and comments focusing on “behavioural antritrust”. This article considers the state of the art of the behavioural approach to antitrust, taking the case of predatory pricing as useful test-bed for better evaluating practical perspectives of such an approach. The article suggests a “step beyond” by sketching a cognitive upgrade of antitrust. This move is coherent with a broader cognitive law framework that is in line with what is happening within contemporary economic theory.


Luca Arnaudo
Luca Arnaudo, Ph.D. Italian Competition Authority, Investigative Directorate Rome. This article benefited from comments and criticism from Harry Gerla, Giacomo Luchetta, Roberto Pardolesi, Maurice Stucke, participants at the VII National Convention of the Italian Society of Law and Economics, and two anonymous referees; usual disclaimers apply. Please send any comments to lucarnaudo@gmail.com.
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.

    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.
Article

Access_open Law and China’s Economic Growth

A Macroeconomic Perspective

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2012
Keywords China, economic imbalance, factor markets, economic policies, law and regulations
Authors Guangdong Xu
AbstractAuthor's information

    China is now stuck in an investment-driven growth pattern that has helped it achieve excessive economic growth in the short run but at the cost of environmental quality, ordinary citizens’ welfare, and long-term economic health. Two main factors can be identified as responsible for the formation and continuation of the current growth pattern. One is economic policy, especially fiscal and financial policies, which contribute to the decline in household consumption by depressing household disposable income and reducing social services provided by the government. The other is the law and regulations that the government has used to subsidize investment and production by distorting factor markets, including markets for capital, land, labor, energy, and environment. A systematic legal and institutional reform whose purpose is to liberalize factor markets is therefore required to rebalance China’s economy.


Guangdong Xu
China University of Political Science and Law.
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.
Article

Access_open Boosting Our Future Quotient

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2012
Keywords intergenerational, future-readiness, paradigm shift, future quotient, leadership dimensions, sustainability
Authors John Elkington
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article argues that efforts to implement CSR and sustainability will need increasingly long-term strategy and action, at a time when both our financial and ecological systems are in growing crisis. The resulting need to wind down dysfunctional economic and business models of the nineteenth and twentieth century is increasingly apparent. New ones now need be created that are fit for the future. This will be a future with powerful new players (e.g. China, India, Brazil) and with more than 9 billion people in a world already in “ecological overshoot. We need to the opportunity to create and shape a new order that will meet the needs of present and future generations.The article introduces the FQ concept, spotlights some key dimensions of high FQ-leadership and begins to sketch out a method to measure the future-readiness of leaders. In this context, the MindTime concept is presented as a potential tool to identify and evolve the relevant styles of thinking. The author identifies some sectors with a particular propensity for long-term thinking and concludes that high-FQ leaders demonstrate a number of specific characteristic, summarized here in what is dubbed the 7Cs approach.


John Elkington
Executive Chairman of Volans (<www.volans.com>) and Non-Executive Director at SustainAbility (<www.sustainability.com>).
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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