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Introduction

Access_open Towards Responsible Business Conduct in Global Value Chains: Relevant Legal Developments in the Netherlands

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords responsible business conduct, business and human rights, corporate social responsibility, sustainable development, the Netherlands
Authors Liesbeth Enneking and Jeroen Veldman
AbstractAuthor's information

    The past few decades have seen an increasing scrutiny of the impacts – both positive and negative – that companies have on the societies in which they operate. The search for adequate responses to such scrutiny is reflected in developments in the societal, political and academic debate on three separate but interrelated concepts: corporate social responsibility, business and human rights and responsible business conduct. The focus in this Special Issue will be on law and policy relating to responsible business conduct in global value chains. The contributions in this Special Issue identify relevant developments and institutions in the Netherlands, including rules and regulations related to trade, investment and corporate governance as well as cases related to corporate and consumer responsibilities, and assess their role in relation to the potential to provide a positive response to the concern about the human and environmental impacts of business activities. Together, they provide a multi-perspective view of relevant gaps and/or best practices with regard to regulatory governance in the Netherlands while at the same time enabling a comparative debate on the extent to which these diverse developments and institutions are in line with stated policy goals in this context both at national and EU levels. In doing so, this Special Issue aims to contribute to further coherence between national and EU policies with regard to RBC in global value chains and sustainable development.


Liesbeth Enneking
Liesbeth Enneking is Professor of Legal Aspects of International Corporate Social Responsibility at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Jeroen Veldman
Jeroen Veldman is Visiting Professor at the Interdisciplinary Institute for Innovation at Mines ParisTech in Paris, France and Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School in London, UK.
Article

Access_open The Potential of the Dutch Corporate Governance Model for Sustainable Governance and Long Term Stakeholder Value

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords corporate governance, company law, stakeholders, Dutch Corporate Governance Code, long-termism
Authors Manuel Lokin and Jeroen Veldman
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article addresses the question of how the Dutch regulatory and institutional setting enables policy coherence, specifically with regard to safeguarding stakeholders’ interests and promoting sustainable governance. To address this question, we engage with idiosyncratic theoretical notions in the Dutch corporate governance model. We follow the evolution of these notions in statutory company law and case law, their development in the Dutch Corporate Governance Code and their relation to the Enterprise Chamber as a unique institution. We establish how these theoretical views and practical institutions present significant means by which stakeholder concerns may be represented in the operation of company law and corporate governance more broadly and provide a number of ways in which these institutions and their operation can be further developed.


Manuel Lokin
Manuel Lokin is Professor of Company Law at the University of Utrecht and lawyer at Stibbe, Amsterdam.

Jeroen Veldman
Jeroen Veldman is Visiting Professor at the Interdisciplinary Institute for Innovation at Mines ParisTech in Paris, France and Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School in London, UK.
Article

Access_open Exit, Voice and Loyalty from the Perspective of Hedge Funds Activism in Corporate Governance

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2016
Keywords Uncertainty, entrepreneurship, agency costs, loyalty shares, institutional investors
Authors Alessio M. Pacces
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article discusses hedge funds activism based on Hirschman’s classic. It is argued that hedge funds do not create the loyalty concerns underlying the usual short-termism critique of their activism, because the arbiters of such activism are typically indexed funds, which cannot choose short-term exit. Nevertheless, the voice activated by hedge funds can be excessive for a particular company. Furthermore, this article claims that the short-termism debate cannot shed light on the desirability of hedge funds activism. Neither theory nor empirical evidence can tell whether hedge funds activism leads to short-termism or long-termism. The real issue with activism is a conflict of entrepreneurship, namely a conflict between the opposing views of the activists and the incumbent management regarding in how long an individual company should be profitable. Leaving the choice between these views to institutional investors is not efficient for every company at every point in time. Consequently, this article argues that regulation should enable individual companies to choose whether to curb hedge funds activism depending on what is efficient for them. The recent European experience reveals that loyalty shares enable such choice, even in the midstream, operating as dual-class shares in disguise. However, loyalty shares can often be introduced without institutional investors’ consent. This outcome could be improved by allowing dual-class recapitalisations, instead of loyalty shares, but only with a majority of minority vote. This solution would screen for the companies for which temporarily curbing activism is efficient, and induce these companies to negotiate sunset clauses with institutional investors.


Alessio M. Pacces
Professor of Law & Finance, Erasmus School of Law, and Research Associate, European Corporate Governance Institute.
Article

Access_open Towards Context-Specific Directors' Duties and Enforcement Mechanisms in the Banking Sector?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2013
Keywords banking sector, directors' duties, financial crisis, context-specific doctrines, public enforcement
Authors Wasima Khan LL.M.
AbstractAuthor's information

    The global financial crisis gives reason to revisit the debate on directors’ duties in corporate law, mainly with regard to the context of banks. This article explores the need, rationale and the potential for the introduction of context-specific directors’ duties and enforcement mechanisms in the banking sector in the Netherlands from a comparative perspective.
    Chiefly, two legal strategies can be derived from the post-crisis developments and calls for legal reforms for the need and rationale to sharpen directors’ duties in the context of the banking sector in order to meet societal demands. The two strategies consist in shifting the scope of directors’ duties (i) towards clients’ interests and (ii) towards the public interest.
    Subsequently, this article explores the potential for context-specific directors’ duties and accompanying enforcement mechanisms. Firstly, it is argued that the current legal framework allows for the judicial development -specific approach. Secondly, such context-specific directors’ duties should be enforced through public-enforcement mechanisms to enhance the accountability of bank directors towards the public interest but currently there are too much barriers for implementation in practice.
    In conclusion, this article argues that there is indeed a need, rationale and potential for context-specific directors’ duties; yet there are several major obstacles for the implementation of accompanying public-enforcement mechanisms. As a result, the introduction of context-specific directors’ duties in the banking sector may as yet entail nothing more than wishful thinking because it will merely end in toothless ambitions if the lack of accompanying enforcement mechanisms remains intact.


Wasima Khan LL.M.
PhD Candidate at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam. The author wishes to express her gratitude for valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article from Prof. Vino Timmerman and Prof. Bastiaan F. Assink at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam, as well as the Journal‘s editors and peer reviewers. Any errors remain those of the author.
Article

Access_open An Eclectic Approach to Loyalty-Promoting Instruments in Corporate Law: Revisiting Hirschman's Model of Exit, Voice, and Loyalty

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 2 2013
Keywords Eclecticism, corporate law & economics, corporate constitutionalism, loyalty-promoting instruments
Authors Bart Bootsma MSc LLM
AbstractAuthor's information

    This essay analyses the shareholder role in corporate governance in terms of Albert Hirschman's Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. The term 'exit' is embedded in a law & economics framework, while 'voice' relates to a corporate constitutional framework. The essay takes an eclectic approach and argues that, in order to understand the shareholder role in its full breadth and depth, the corporate law & economics framework can 'share the analytical stage' with a corporate constitutional framework. It is argued that Hirschman's concept of 'loyalty' is the connecting link between the corporate law & economics and corporate constitutional framework. Corporate law is perceived as a Janus head, as it is influenced by corporate law & economics as well as by corporate constitutional considerations. In the discussion on the shareholder role in public corporations, it is debated whether corporate law should facilitate loyalty-promoting instruments, such as loyalty dividend and loyalty warrants. In this essay, these instruments are analysed based on the eclectic approach. It is argued that loyalty dividend and warrants are law & economics instruments (i.e. financial incentives) based on corporate constitutional motives (i.e. promoting loyalty in order to change the exit/voice mix in favour of voice).


Bart Bootsma MSc LLM
PhD candidate in the corporate law department at Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Email: bootsma@law.eur.nl. The research for this article has been supported by a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in the Open Competition in the Social Sciences 2010. The author is grateful to Ellen Hey, Klaus Heine, Michael Faure, Matthijs de Jongh and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. The usual disclaimer applies.
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