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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 From Individuals to Organizations: The Puzzle of Organizational Liability in Tort Law

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 2 2015
Keywords organizational liability, tort law, organizational design, organizational wrongdoing, law and economics
Authors Klaus Heine and Kateryna Grabovets
AbstractAuthor's information

    Organizational accidents have two generic sources: individual wrongdoings and organizational failures. Economic analysis of tort law is methodologically based on the “fiction” (Gordon 2013) of a rational individual, from which “simple rules for a complex world” (Epstein 1995) are derived. As a result, organizational wrongdoing boils down to a simple principal-agent problem, neglecting the complexity of organizational reality. We shed more light on organizational factors as a separate trigger of organizational wrongdoing. We take an interdisciplinary perspective on the problem, which challenges traditional economic analysis of tort law with insights drawn from organizational science. Moreover, we demonstrate how tort law and economic analysis can be enriched with these insights.


Klaus Heine
Prof. Dr. Klaus Heine (Corresponding author), Jean Monnet Chair of Economic Analysis of European Law, Erasmus School of Law – RILE, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, Room J6-59, Postbus 1738, NL-3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Tel: 0031 (0)10 4082691; Fax: 0031 (0)10 4089191.

Kateryna Grabovets
Dr. Kateryna Grabovets, Rotterdam Business School (RBS), Rotterdam University of​Applied‍ Sci‍ences,‍ Kralingse Zoom 91, Room C3.121, 3063 ND Rotterdam; P.O. Box 25035, 3001 HA Rotterdam, The Netherlands.​Tel:‍ 0031‍ (0)10‍ 7946243. k.a.grabovets@hr.nl
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 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).

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 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 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.
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 Revisiting China’s Merger Control

Where Are We Going After the Three-Year Milestone?

Journal The Dovenschmidt Quarterly, Issue 1 2013
Keywords anti-monopoly law, merger control, competition effect
Authors Xinzhu Zhang and Vanessa Yanhua Zhang
AbstractAuthor's information

    After three years of enforcement of the Anti-Monopoly Law, the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has issued its own merger review guidelines and regulations. It has also published the decisions of eleven cases that were either blocked or approved with conditions. In this paper we review China’s rules for the implementation of merger control and analyze the patterns and implications from the recent case decisions. We find that although China’s merger control policy is largely consistent with international practice in many respects, there are still a few areas where China’s practice differs from those in other jurisdictions. These differences and their implications are analyzed in the article.


Xinzhu Zhang
Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, Nanchang China and Research Center for Regulation and Competition, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China. Email: xzzhang@public.bta.net.cn.

Vanessa Yanhua Zhang
Renmin University of China, Beijing, China and Global Economics Group, Beijing and New York. Email: vzhang@globaleconomicsgroup.com.

    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.
Editorial

Access_open Validity and Compatibility of the SAM and KLD Screening Instruments

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

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


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