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Article

Access_open The Norm of Integrity in Corporate Governance Codes: Could It Be Made Enforceable?

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2015
Keywords corporate governance, integrity, legal strategies, Goldman Sachs
Authors B.T.M. Steins Bisschop
AbstractAuthor's information

    The faring of Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis of 2008 is discussed against the background of legal instruments that were employed to avoid its failure. This discussion leads to the conclusion that in this case, the limits of classical legal instruments were reached. To further good corporate governance, the legal relevance of the term ‘integrity’ is explored. It is concluded that the legal term of integrity is used universally in corporate governance codes, but is not operational and therefore not enforceable. An attempt is made to redefine this general principle into a more operational term. This is tested in the case of Goldman Sachs’ executive Jon Winkelried. It is assumed that he has violated the standard of integrity but also that there were no enforceable legal means to sanction his behaviour. The conclusion is that the more operational interpretation of the term integrity could, in this case, have resulted in an enforceable legal instrument to sanction behaviour that is contrary to the norm of integrity. This operational term of integrity could aid in the debate on furthering good corporate governance through enforceable legal strategies.


B.T.M. Steins Bisschop
Prof. Dr. Bas T.M. Steins Bisschop holds a chair Corporate Law and Governance at the Faculty of Law of Maastricht University and a chair Corporate Law at Nyenrode Business University. He is partner of a boutique law firm in The Hague, The Netherlands.
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 Independent Supervisory Directors in Family-Controlled Publicly Listed Corporations

Is There a Need to Revisit the EU Independence Standards?

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2015
Keywords corporate governance, board independence, independent non-executive or supervisory directors, listed family businesses, minority expropriation problem
Authors Fabian Imach
AbstractAuthor's information

    This contribution analyzes whether the current focus of the EU regulator on empowering independent directors is effective in corporations with a concentrated (family) ownership structure. The basic hypothesis of this contribution is that, contrary to the excessively optimistic expectations of the EU regulator, there are serious inefficiencies in the concept of independent directors when it comes to concentrated (family) ownership structures. The contribution relies on a series of empirical studies indicating a positive correlation between operating performance and family influence in European stock corporations.


Fabian Imach
Fabian Imach is management consultant at Societaet CHORVS AG, Gesellschaft für disruptive Wettbewerbsgestaltung in Düsseldorf. He has previously worked for BMW AG, JAFFÉ Rechtsanwälte Insolvenzverwalter (Lawyers and Insolvency Administrators) and Porsche Consulting GmbH. He holds a Master degree from Maastricht University, Faculty of Law.
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 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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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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