Locating pure economic loss: jurisdiction over prospectus liability under Article 7(2) of the Brussels I Regulation Recast

A post by guest blogger Michiel Poesen

In C‑304/17 Helga Löber v Barclays Bank plc, the CJEU had the opportunity to revisit its case law regarding jurisdiction over prospectus liability. The relevant ground for jurisdiction is Article 7(2) of the Brussels I Regulation Recast (previously Article 5(3) of the 2001 Brussels I Regulation): A person domiciled in a Member State may be sued in another Member State in matters relating to tort, delict or quasi-delict, in the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred or may occur. The ECJ confirmed that in the context of prospectus liability, the place where the harmful event occurred can be exceptionally located in the claimant’s domicile. Continue reading “Locating pure economic loss: jurisdiction over prospectus liability under Article 7(2) of the Brussels I Regulation Recast”

Regulating Finance: Levelling the Cross-Sectoral Playing Field

A guest post by Veerle Colaert on a conference in Nijmegen (15 and 16 October 2018)

Financial law as we know it today mirrors the traditional structure of the financial industry. In most legal systems, it is thus divided into banking, insurance and investment services law. Over the past few decades, however, the clear separation between financial sectors has gradually evaporated, as business lines have converged across sectors. Moreover, various FinTech solutions have emerged, which do not fit traditional sector boundaries. This raises the question whether a more cross-sectoral approach to financial regulation is warranted. Continue reading “Regulating Finance: Levelling the Cross-Sectoral Playing Field”

Cassatie: de werkende vennoot in een VOF of CommV is ook een onderneming

In een arrest van 20 juni 2018 (C.17.0587.F) stelt het Hof van Cassatie dat de vennoot in een VOF of de werkende vennoot in een CommV een ‘onderneming’ is:

“Aux termes de l’article 202 du Code des sociétés, la société en commandite simple est celle que contractent un ou plusieurs associés responsables et solidaires, que l’on nomme les commandités, et un ou plusieurs associés simples bailleurs de fonds, que l’on nomme les commanditaires.

En vertu de l’article 205 du même code, la société est en nom collectif à l’égard des associés indéfiniment responsables et en commandite simple à l’égard des bailleurs de fonds.

Les personnes qui font commerce en nom collectif sont présumées être des entreprises. Elles acquièrent cette qualité par leur participation à la société.

Tous les associés d’une société en nom collectif sont qualifiés d’entreprises.

Partant, les commandités d’une société en commandite simple doivent aussi être qualifiés d’entreprises.”

Uit de electronisch publicatie van het cassatie-arrest kan niet worden afgeleid over welk ondernemingsbegrip uit welke wetsbepaling het gaat. Daarvoor moet het verzoekschrift worden meegelezen, dat echter niet is mee gepubliceerd. Uit de arresten a quo (waarover we wel beschikken), kan worden afgeleid dat het gaat om een stakingsvordering inzake marktpraktijken. Het relevante ondernemingsbegrip is dus het huidige art. I.1, 1° WER : elke natuurlijke of rechtspersoon die duurzaam een economische activiteit uitoefent.

Het geschil werd ingesteld door autobusexploitanten tegen taxichauffeurs i.v.m. het ‘assertief’ afwerven van klanten voor het vervoer tussen Brussel-Zuid en de luchthaven van Charleroi.  Continue reading “Cassatie: de werkende vennoot in een VOF of CommV is ook een onderneming”

Themis-recyclage insolventie- en beslagrecht te Leuven, Brussel, Hasselt of Kortrijk

In oktober wordt op vier locaties op een namiddag of avond een overzicht gegeven van de recente ontwikkelingen in het nationaal en grensoverschrijdend insolventierecht, het beslagrecht en het pandrecht. De onderwerpen op elk van de locaties zijn de volgende: Continue reading “Themis-recyclage insolventie- en beslagrecht te Leuven, Brussel, Hasselt of Kortrijk”

European Company Law Journal: ‘Parent Company Liability after Okpabi v Shell’

Earlier this year, the England and Wales Court of Appeal issued its much-anticipated ruling in Okpabi et al. versus Royal Dutch Shell et al. The judgment addresses important questions in relation to a parent company’s liability for damage caused by its subsidiaries.

A previous blog post ‘Parent Companies Are Not Parents, Subsidiaries Are Not Children’, argued that the Court of Appeal has given a strong signal that England will not lead the way in opening up new avenues to get into the ‘deep pockets’ of parent companies to address harms caused by their subsidiaries around the world.

Building on the blog post, a recent article in the European Company Law Journal presents a further analysis of the case and discusses the implications of the ruling for companies and regulators in the future.

Revised €1,3 billion settlement in the Fortis case approved by Dutch court

On 13 July 2018, the Court of Amsterdam approveda revised €1.308,5 million class action settlement between Ageas (Fortis’ legal successor) and four claimant organizations ((VEB, Deminor, SICAF and Stichting FortisEffect) concerning allegedly false or misleading statements by Fortis during the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008. In an earlier decision of 16 June 2017, the court had declined to approve the settlement (discussed on this blog here). According to the court, the main reasons for this where the unjustified differences in compensation awarded to “active claimants” (those who filed a legal procedure or registered with any of the claimant organizations) and “non-active claimants” (those who didn’t), as well as the exorbitant fees for the claimant organizations.

After the court’s first decision, the parties reached a new settlement agreementon 12 December 2017, which took into account the court’s criticism and included a €100 million increase in the settlement amount. This time, ConsumentenClaim, one of the most important opponents during the first trial, also supported the agreement. Although the court remained critical for one of the claimant organizations (VEB), the court now approved the settlement and declared it binding on all shareholders that do not opt out within five months. This way, more than ten years after the facts, the shareholders of Fortis will get compensation and Ageas can leave this legacy behind.

Continue reading “Revised €1,3 billion settlement in the Fortis case approved by Dutch court”

Are loyalty voting rights efficient?

Some reflections on the Belgian proposals

Especially after the financial crisis, many people have drawn attention to the problem of short-termism. There are many possible strategies to address this problem, including awarding additional voting rights to loyal shareholders (“loyalty voting rights”). Both France and Italy have introduced loyalty voting rights, and now the Belgian proposal for a new Companies and Associations Code also contains the possibility of loyalty voting rights in listed companies (discussed in previous blog posts here and here).

Of course, this raises the question how effective loyalty voting rights, as proposed in the Belgian Company Law Reform, are in addressing the short-termism problem. In this blog post, I argue that loyalty voting rights are unlikely to increase the holding periods of investors, as the evidence suggests that they are only used by the controlling shareholders. However, loyalty voting rights will allow a controlling shareholder to insulate itself from short-term market pressures. On the other hand, insulation also comes with the disadvantage of higher agency costs.

Therefore, I argue that loyalty voting shares are in fact nothing else than a type of control-enhancing mechanism. This implies that shareholders should be protected against midstream introductions of loyalty voting rights. On this ground, I question the wisdom of lowering the threshold to introduce loyalty voting rights, as the Belgian legislator is proposing, inspired by the French and Italian examples. In addition, I propose an additional majority for the introduction of loyalty voting rights, inspired by the idea of “majority of the minority” approval.

Continue reading “Are loyalty voting rights efficient?”