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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 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 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 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 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.

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 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 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 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.

    The Dutch non-profit Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and Amnesty International – Netherlands (AI-NL) commissioned in 2012 a study on transparency of multinational enterprises to the Utrecht University’s Molengraaff Institute for Private Law. With this study SOMO and AI-NL aim to substantiate the need for enhancing corporate transparency in order to stimulate responsible business conduct and be able to hold companies to account for adverse impacts they cause or contribute to.


Joris Oldenziel
Joris Oldenziel is program manager and senior researcher at the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO).

Heleen Tiemersma
Heleen Tiemersma is business and human rights specialist at Amnesty International.
Article

Access_open Multinationals and Transparency in Foreign Direct Liability Cases

The Prospects for Obtaining Evidence under the Dutch Civil Procedural Regime on the Production of Exhibits

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 3 2013
Keywords foreign direct liability, corporate social responsibility, transparency document disclosure, Dutch Shell Nigeria case
Authors Liesbeth F.H. Enneking
AbstractAuthor's information

    On 30 January 2013, the The Hague district court rendered a final judgment with respect to a number of civil liability claims against Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) and its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) that had been pursued by four Nigerian farmers and the Dutch NGO Milieudefensie in relation to various oil spills from SPDC-operated pipelines in the Nigerian Niger Delta. This case is the first Dutch example of a broader, worldwide trend towards similar transnational civil liability procedures against multinational corporations for harm caused to people and planet in developing host countries. This worldwide trend towards so-called ‘foreign direct liability cases’ and the Dutch Shell Nigeria case in particular raise many interesting socio-political as well as legal questions. This article will focus on the question what the prospects are for plaintiffs seeking to pursue such claims before a Dutch court when it comes to obtaining evidence under the Dutch civil procedural regime on the production of exhibits. This is a highly relevant question, since the proceedings in the Dutch Shell Nigeria case seem to indicate that the relatively restrictive Dutch regime on the production of exhibits in civil procedures may potentially impose a structural barrier on the access to remedies before Dutch courts of the victims of corporate violations of people and planet abroad.


Liesbeth F.H. Enneking
Liesbeth Enneking is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UCALL, Utrecht University’s multidisciplinary Centre for Accountability and Liability Law, and an Assistant Professor of Private International Law at Utrecht University’s Molengraaff Institute for Private Law. The author would like to thank prof. I. Giesen for comments on an earlier version of this article.
Article

Access_open Multinational Corporations and Human Rights

Civil Procedure as a Means of Obtaining Transparency

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 3 2013
Keywords civil litigation, discovery, human rights, multinationals
Authors R.R. Verkerk
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article explores the degree in which civil procedural rules may promote transparancy from multinationals about human rights policies and allegations of human rights violations.


R.R. Verkerk
Remme Verkerk practices law at Houthoff Buruma (Rotterdam).
Article

Access_open The Conflict Minerals Rule

Private Alternatives?

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 3 2013
Keywords corporate social responsibility, conflict minerals, codes of conduct, contract law
Authors A.L. Vytopil
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article discusses Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act in respect of the transparency certain American companies are to provide in respect of conflict minerals and the Rule drawn up by the Securities and Exchange Commission following this legislation. It explains the requirements it poses on companies. Moreover, it highlights some of the societal criticism in respect of the Securities and Exchange Commission Rule, the legal challenge of this Rule and the subsequent court verdict by the District Court for the District of Columbia. Finally, it elaborates upon private regulatory initiatives that could provide viable alternatives to conflict minerals legislation, and it concludes that for the Netherlands, private regulation would probably be more effective than legislation comparable to Section 1502 of the Dodd Frank Act.


A.L. Vytopil
Louise Vytopil, LL.B MA MSc, is a Ph.D.-candidate and assistant-professor at Utrecht University’s Molengraaff Institute for Private Law.
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.
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