Limited Liability Property

In a recent paper Danielle D’Onfro (Washington University Law) argues that security interests are best understood as a form of “limited liability property”. Limited liability, i.e. the privilege of being legally shielded from liability that would normally apply, has long been considered the quintessential feature of equity interests. The author convincingly argues, however, that limited liability is a critical feature of security interests as well. Debt and equity are indeed not the opposites they are sometimes believed to be. The paper will soon be published in Cardozo Law Review and can already be consulted here.

Soms is lomp slim

Regels inzake minimumkapitaal zijn makkelijk na te komen en af te dwingen

Een eerdere post had het over het verplicht minimumkapitaal. Niet-aansprakelijkheid van de aandeelhouder wordt door het bestaan van een verplichte en achtergestelde inbreng  “beperkte aansprakelijkheid”. Zeker voor kleine vennootschappen met een controlerende aandeelhouder is de prikkel die het wettelijk minimumkapitaal met zich brengt reëel.

Het minimumkapitaal is niet langer en vogue in de doctrine. Continue reading “Soms is lomp slim”

The effect of formation rules on the functioning of capital markets: lessons from history

Carsten Gerner-Beuerle (LSE) on link between formation rules and the development of capital markets

An earlier post  (in Dutch) discussed the risk of moral hazard when limited liability allows company owners to take excessive risks without needing to fear personal losses. This goes to the expense of company creditors. Minimum capital requirements were suggested as a remedy since this raises the stakes for company owners and thus discourages excessive behavior.

A recent analysis of corporate and financial regulation in Britain and Germany in the 19th century argues, however, that stringent formation rules, such as minimum capital requirements, could possibly hamper the development of financial markets (see: C. Gerner-Beuerle, ‘Law and Finance in Emerging Economies: Germany and Britain 1800-1900, The Modern Law Review, Vol. 80 Iss. 2, March 2017, 263-298).

Continue reading “The effect of formation rules on the functioning of capital markets: lessons from history”

Shareholders in insolvency law: here to stay


One of the very first posts on this blog related to the publication of the inaugural lecture of prof. dr. Rolef de Weijs on the occasion of his appointment as professor of National and International Insolvency Law at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Law. In this lecture, the position of shareholders in insolvency law is critically examined. Until recently, insolvency was all about creditors (company law, on the other hand, was all about shareholders). The lecture by prof. de Weijs clearly demonstrates the need for insolvency law to also take into account the position of shareholders. Debt and equity go hand in hand, also – and especially – in times of insolvency. On a more general level, the lecture illustrates the absence of real borders between company law and insolvency law. An (updated) English translation of the lecture can now be found here.

Cassatie: ook een aandeelhouder mag oplichting persoonlijk nemen

Cassatie 25 januari 2017 bevestigt dat aandeelhouder een bestuurder kan aanspreken voor persoonlijke schade

Het faillissement dreigt voor een vennootschap. Om werkgelegenheid te redden is een overheid bereid om een grote investering te doen en aldus aandeelhouder te worden van de vennootschap. Een voorwaarde daarbij is dat de bestaande private aandeelhouders ook bijkomende inbreng doen. De vennootschap gaat later failliet. Het blijkt dan dat de private aandeelhouders hun inbreng op frauduleuze wijze uit de vennootschap hebben weggesluisd.

Heeft de overheid een schadevergoedingsaanspraak tegen de private aandeelhouders en de met hen verbonden bestuurders? Continue reading “Cassatie: ook een aandeelhouder mag oplichting persoonlijk nemen”

You can’t have your cake and eat it too: on debt as equity

Een post door gastblogger Simon Landuyt

Debt and equity have in common that they are both provided to a company by an investor in return for a claim on its assets. For the creditor, the claim and the repayment date are fixed. On the other hand, the shareholder is a residual claimant. He will, in principle, only receive from the company to the extent the company’s assets exceed its liabilities. As a consequence, the claim of the shareholder is subordinated to the claim of the creditor. Therefore, at least in certain jurisdictions, it often happens that creditors or bankruptcy trustees try to qualify or “recharacterize” a rather vague financial contract of (another) investor into equity once the company gets into difficulties.

Continue reading “You can’t have your cake and eat it too: on debt as equity”

What are the duties of a shareholder?

Executive summary: same duties as everyone, but with a more punitive enforcement

In a recent post on the Oxford Business Law Blog Birkmose (Aarhus) and Möslein (Marburg) try to map shareholders’ duties: Continue reading “What are the duties of a shareholder?”