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Full-Text Articles in Law

Why We Should Stop Teaching Dodge V. Ford, Lynn A. Stout Apr 2008

Why We Should Stop Teaching Dodge V. Ford, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

What is the purpose of a corporation? To many people, the answer to this question seems obvious: corporations exist to make money for their shareholders. Maximizing shareholder wealth is the corporation's only true concern, its raison d'être. Devoted corporate officers and directors should direct all their efforts toward this goal.

Some find this picture of the corporation as an engine for increasing shareholder wealth to be quite attractive. Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman famously praised this view of corporate purpose in his 1970 New York Times essay, "The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits." To ...


The Reform Of Corporate Taxation In The European Union, Nina Winkler Apr 2008

The Reform Of Corporate Taxation In The European Union, Nina Winkler

Cornell Law School Inter-University Graduate Student Conference Papers

The Commission of the European Communities is currently drafting a proposal for an EU Directive to implement the first comprehensive corporate tax strategy for the Internal Market. The adoption of a common consolidated corporate tax base for EU multinational enterprises is one of today’s most highly debated issues on Brussels’ political agenda. Since the reform would affect all international companies conducting business in the Internal Market, it should also be of great interest for non-EU corporate and tax law scholars and lawyers. The paper critically evaluates the key advantages and disadvantages of the concept of an EU consolidated tax ...


Lender Control Liability Functional Examination: The Firm And Heuristics, Sergio A. Muro Mar 2008

Lender Control Liability Functional Examination: The Firm And Heuristics, Sergio A. Muro

Cornell Law School J.S.D. Student Research Papers

Lender control is criticized due to problems arising out of conflict of interests among different priority claimholders. Recently, it has been defended as a way to make the reorganization process more efficient. This paper builds on previous research on the theory of the firm to show that lender control generates inefficiencies even in situations where there is only one layer of legal claimants. Specifically, the paper demonstrates that departing from the nexus of explicit contracts paradigm, used by both previous critics and supporters of lender control, allows to understand other sources of lender control inefficiencies based on its inability to ...


Fiduciary Duties For Activist Shareholders, Iman Anabtawi, Lynn A. Stout Mar 2008

Fiduciary Duties For Activist Shareholders, Iman Anabtawi, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Corporate law and scholarship generally assume that professional managers control public corporations, while shareholders play only a weak and passive role. As a result, corporate officers and directors are understood to be subject to extensive fiduciary duties, while shareholders traditionally have been thought to have far more limited obligations. Outside the contexts of controlling shareholders and closely held firms, many experts argue shareholders have no duties at all.

The most important trend in corporate governance today, however, is the move toward "shareholder democracy." Changes in financial markets, in business practice, and in corporate law have given minority shareholders in public ...


Deconstructing Equity: Public Ownership, Agency Costs, And Complete Capital Markets, Charles K. Whitehead, Ronald J. Gilson Jan 2008

Deconstructing Equity: Public Ownership, Agency Costs, And Complete Capital Markets, Charles K. Whitehead, Ronald J. Gilson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The traditional law and finance focus on agency costs presumes that the premise that diversified public shareholders are the cheapest risk bearers is immutable. In this Essay, we raise the possibility that changes in the capital markets have called this premise into question, drawn into sharp relief by the recent private equity wave in which the size and range of public companies being taken private expanded significantly. In brief, we argue that private owners, in increasingly complete markets, can transfer risk in discrete slices to counterparties who, in turn, can manage or otherwise diversify away those risks they choose to ...


Do Juries Add Value? Evidence From An Empirical Study Of Jury Trial Waiver Clauses In Large Corporate Contracts, Theodore Eisenberg, Geoffrey P. Miller Nov 2007

Do Juries Add Value? Evidence From An Empirical Study Of Jury Trial Waiver Clauses In Large Corporate Contracts, Theodore Eisenberg, Geoffrey P. Miller

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

We study jury trial waivers in a data set of 2,816 contracts contained as exhibits in Form 8-K filings by reporting corporations during 2002. Because these contracts are associated with events deemed material to the financial condition of SEC-reporting firms, they likely are carefully negotiated by sophisticated, well-informed parties and thus provide presumptive evidence about the value associated with the availability of jury trials. A minority of contracts, about 20 percent, waived jury trials. An additional 9 percent of contracts had arbitration clauses that effectively preclude jury trials though the reason for arbitration clauses need not specifically relate to ...


The Mythical Benefits Of Shareholder Control, Lynn A. Stout May 2007

The Mythical Benefits Of Shareholder Control, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In "The Myth of the Shareholder Franchise," Professor Lucian Bebchuk elegantly argues that the notion that shareholders in public corporations have the power to remove directors is a myth. Although a director facing a proxy contest might find this to be a bit of an overstatement, the core idea is sound. In a public company with widely dispersed share ownership, it is difficult and expensive for shareholders to overcome obstacles to collective action and wage a proxy battle to oust an incumbent board. Nor is success likely when directors can use corporate funds to solicit proxies to stay in place ...


The Mythical Benefits Of Shareholder Control, Lynn A. Stout Apr 2007

The Mythical Benefits Of Shareholder Control, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In a forthcoming Virginia Law Review article, Professor Lucian Bebchuk argues that the notion that shareholders in public corporations have the power to remove directors is a myth. This is perhaps an overstatement, but Bebchuk is correct to suggest that in a public company with widely dispersed share ownership, it is difficult and expensive for shareholders to overcome obstacles to collective action and wage a proxy battle to oust an incumbent board. Nor is success likely when directors can use corporate funds to solicit proxies to stay in place. The end result, as Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means famously observed ...


The Flight From Arbitration: An Empirical Study Of Ex Ante Arbitration Clauses In The Contracts Of Publicly Held Companies, Theodore Eisenberg, Geoffrey P. Miller Jan 2007

The Flight From Arbitration: An Empirical Study Of Ex Ante Arbitration Clauses In The Contracts Of Publicly Held Companies, Theodore Eisenberg, Geoffrey P. Miller

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Informed parties bargaining for their mutual advantage will tend to agree to provisions that maximize the social surplus. Such bargaining includes provisions regarding the resolution of disputes that might arise under the contract. Thus, if a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as binding arbitration, provides greater social benefits than litigation, the dynamics of the process should tend to induce the parties to include a clause submitting future disputes to arbitration. This Article studies the actual contracting practices of large, sophisticated actors with respect to arbitration clauses. We examined over 2800 contracts, filed with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in ...


Ex Ante Choices Of Law And Forum: An Empirical Analysis Of Corporate Merger Agreements, Theodore Eisenberg, Geoffrey P. Miller Nov 2006

Ex Ante Choices Of Law And Forum: An Empirical Analysis Of Corporate Merger Agreements, Theodore Eisenberg, Geoffrey P. Miller

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Legal scholars have focused much attention on the incorporation puzzle—why business corporations so heavily favor Delaware as the site of incorporation. This paper suggests that the focus on the incorporation decision overlooks a broader but intimately related set of questions. The choice of Delaware as a situs of incorporation is, effectively, a choice of law decision. A company electing to charter in Delaware selects Delaware law (and authorizes Delaware courts to adjudicate legal disputes) regarding the allocation of governance authority within the firm. In this sense, the incorporation decision is fundamentally similar to any setting in which a company ...


Specific Investment: Explaining Anomalies In Corporate Law, Margaret M. Blair, Lynn A. Stout Apr 2006

Specific Investment: Explaining Anomalies In Corporate Law, Margaret M. Blair, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This Article has two goals: to praise Professor Robert Clark as a remarkable corporate scholar, and to explore how his work has helped to advance our understanding of corporations and corporate law. Clark wrote his classic treatise at a time when corporate scholarship was dominated by a principal-agent paradigm that viewed shareholders as the principals or sole residual claimants in public corporations and treated directors as shareholders' agents. This view naturally led contemporary scholars to believe that the chief economic problem of interest in corporate law was the "agency cost" problem of getting corporate directors to do what shareholders wanted ...


Counseling Organizational Clients "Within The Bounds Of The Law", Roger C. Cramton Apr 2006

Counseling Organizational Clients "Within The Bounds Of The Law", Roger C. Cramton

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Share Price As A Poor Criterion For Good Corporate Law, Lynn A. Stout Dec 2005

Share Price As A Poor Criterion For Good Corporate Law, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Academics, reformers, and business leaders all yearn for a single, objective, easy-to-read measure of corporate performance that can be used to judge the quality of public corporation law and practice. This collective desire is so powerful that it has led many commentators to grab onto the first marginally plausible candidate: share price.

Contemporary economic and corporate theory, as well as recent business history, nevertheless warn us against unthinking acceptance of share price as a measure of corporate performance. This Essay offers a brief reminder of some of the many reasons why stock prices often fail to reflect true corporate performance ...


European Law On Capital Markets – Quo Vadis?, Daniela Huemer Apr 2005

European Law On Capital Markets – Quo Vadis?, Daniela Huemer

Cornell Law School Inter-University Graduate Student Conference Papers

The occurrence of more than a dozen accounting scandals in the United States over the past few years have deeply shaken the capital market and have led some to believe that “corporate and legal culture has lost all sense of right and wrong.” Scandals at companies such as Enron and Worldcom have cost thousands of employees their jobs and caused thousands of investors to lose their investments completely. Similar scandals have happened in Europe as well, such as at Parmalat and Lernout & Hauspie, which has caused an increasing reluctance among investors to trust companies with their dollars.

These circumstances have sparked a major debate over corporate governance. Investors, having lost hundreds of billions of dollars pleaded for more protection to ensure that such frauds would not happen again. The US Congress had only a short time period in which to respond to these events and try to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. Congress’s work resulted in the implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was “the most sweeping and important US federal securities legislation affecting public companies and other market participants since the SEC was created in 1934”. The European response to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is manifested in several directives in the field of the law on capital markets. Both the United States and the European Union have had to deal with the issue of restoring investors’ lost confidence, and both have tried to solve the problem by enacting more detailed provisions. This paper examines the present trend in the field of law on capital markets more closely with a particular focus on the European Union. So far, scholars have concentrated only – if at all – on summarizing the content of the several Directives, while leaving aside the question whether the legislative activity of the European Union is a good or bad policy.

I first conduct a closer examination of European capital markets law. In particular my focus is on the most recent and important issues the Member States had, and partly still have to deal with: the Directive on Market Abuse 2003/6/EC, the Prospectus Directive 2003/71/EC and the Transparency Directive 2004/109/EC. I then argue that: (i.) The available data indicates that law on capital markets is moving toward greater regulation on a European level as well as toward a uniformity; and (ii.) although attempting to achieve harmonization on an EU-wide basis is preferable to a “state by state ...


The Fate Of Firms: Explaining Mergers And Bankruptcies, Clas Bergström, Theodore Eisenberg, Stefan Sundgren, Martin T. Wells Mar 2005

The Fate Of Firms: Explaining Mergers And Bankruptcies, Clas Bergström, Theodore Eisenberg, Stefan Sundgren, Martin T. Wells

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Using a uniquely complete data set of more than 50,000 observations of approximately 16,000 corporations, we test theories that seek to explain which firms become merger targets and which firms go bankrupt. We find that merger activity is much greater during prosperous periods than during recessions. In bad economic times, firms in industries with high bankruptcy rates are less likely to file for bankruptcy than they are in better years, supporting the market illiquidity arguments made by Shleifer and Vishny (1992). At the firm level, we find that, among poorly performing firms, the likelihood of merger increases with ...


Who Pays The Auditor Calls The Tune?: Auditing Regulations And Clients' Incentives, Amy Shapiro Jan 2005

Who Pays The Auditor Calls The Tune?: Auditing Regulations And Clients' Incentives, Amy Shapiro

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

As we move on from the financial scandals of the early 2000s, the question of how to prevent the next Enron continues to be a pressing one. This Article focuses on the law’s deeply conflicted treatment of auditors of public corporations. Though the audit firm is charged with serving as the public’s watchdog in insuring good financial disclosure, the auditor’s actual client is the audited corporation itself, whose interests concerning disclosure are not necessarily aligned with those of investors. Because the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 left this structure in place, further reform is needed. One promising suggestion ...


On The Nature Of Corporations, Lynn A. Stout Jan 2005

On The Nature Of Corporations, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Legal experts traditionally distinguish corporations from unincorporated business forms by focusing on corporate characteristics like limited shareholder liability, centralized management, perpetual life, and free transferability of shares. While such approaches have value, this essay argues that the nature of the corporation can be better understood by focusing on a fifth, often-overlooked, characteristic of corporations: their capacity to "lock in" equity investors' initial capital contributions by making it far more difficult for those investors to subsequently withdraw assets from the firm. Like a tar pit, a corporation is much easier for equity investors to get into, than to get out of ...


Was Arthur Andersen Different? An Empirical Examination Of Major Accounting Firm Audits Of Large Clients, Theodore Eisenberg, Jonathan R. Macey Jul 2004

Was Arthur Andersen Different? An Empirical Examination Of Major Accounting Firm Audits Of Large Clients, Theodore Eisenberg, Jonathan R. Macey

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Enron and other corporate financial scandals focused attention on the accounting industry in general and on Arthur Andersen in particular. Part of the policy response to Enron, the criminal prosecution of Andersen eliminated one of the few major audit firms capable of auditing many large public corporations. This article explores whether Andersen’s performance, as measured by frequency of financial restatements, measurably differed from that of other large auditors. Financial restatements trigger significant negative market reactions and their frequency can be viewed as a measure of accounting performance. We analyze the financial restatement activity of approximately 1,000 large public ...


Taxation Of Spin-Off – U.S. And German Corporate Tax Law, Stefan W. Suchan Jun 2004

Taxation Of Spin-Off – U.S. And German Corporate Tax Law, Stefan W. Suchan

Cornell Law School J.D. Student Research Papers

Corporate law provides for a transaction commonly referred to as “spin-off”. The corporate enterprise is divided in (at least) two corporations. The stock of a controlled subsidiary will be distributed pro rata by a parent corporation to its shareholders which end up owning a brother/sister pair of corporate enterprises.

The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) in § 355 provides special rules for the distribution of stock and securities of a controlled corporation. The transaction is known as a “D reorganization”, if such a distribution follows the transfer by a corporation of all or a part of its assets to another corporation ...


Post-Enron: U.S. And German Corporate Governance, Stefan W. Suchan Jun 2004

Post-Enron: U.S. And German Corporate Governance, Stefan W. Suchan

Cornell Law School J.D. Student Research Papers

Only five years after Henry Hansmann and Reinier Kraakmann announced "the End of History of Corporate Law" – borrowing the words of Francis Fukuyama–, this observation seems at least questionable. Following two major failures of the “American Model” with the bankruptcy of Enron and WorldCom, the question of the "right" Corporate Governance regime is again under discussion.

Legislators around the globe assume that further development of Corporate Governance is necessary. There is consent for the need of improvement, but no clear answer on how to improve. A first step to solving the arising problems might be to evaluate the reasons for ...


Untaxing Taxes: An Attempt To Compare Philippine And Us Laws On Tax-Free Corporate Reorganizations, Salvador B. Belaro Jr. May 2004

Untaxing Taxes: An Attempt To Compare Philippine And Us Laws On Tax-Free Corporate Reorganizations, Salvador B. Belaro Jr.

Cornell Law School J.D. Student Research Papers

In comparing tax-free corporate reorganizations between Philippine and US law, the author wishes to learn how the US legal system would approach similar tax situations in the Philippines so he could apply it in the practice of law. Labyrinthine as they may be, US tax rules are so well-developed that they are excellent subjects for a comparative study. This paper validates the fact that Philippine and US tax laws on tax-free corporate exchanges have a lot in common. It also shows that in a lot of areas where Philippine law is silent, US tax laws have already devoted extensive treatment ...


Was Arthur Andersen Different? An Empirical Examination Of Major Accounting Firm Audits Of Large Clients, Theodore Eisenberg, Jonathan R. Macey Jan 2004

Was Arthur Andersen Different? An Empirical Examination Of Major Accounting Firm Audits Of Large Clients, Theodore Eisenberg, Jonathan R. Macey

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Enron and other corporate financial scandals focused attention on the accounting industry in general and on Arthur Andersen in particular. Part of the policy response to Enron, the criminal prosecution of Andersen eliminated one of the few major audit firms capable of auditing many large public corporations. This article explores whether Andersen's performance, as measured by frequency of financial restatements, measurably differed from that of other large auditors. Financial restatements trigger significant negative market reactions and their frequency can be viewed as a measure of accounting performance. We analyze the financial restatement activity of approximately 1,000 large public ...


Legal And Ethical Duties Of Lawyers After Sarbanes-Oxley, Roger C. Cramton, George M. Cohen, Susan P. Koniak Jan 2004

Legal And Ethical Duties Of Lawyers After Sarbanes-Oxley, Roger C. Cramton, George M. Cohen, Susan P. Koniak

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Shareholder As Ulysses: Some Empirical Evidence On Why Investors In Public Corporations Tolerate Board Governance, Lynn A. Stout Dec 2003

Shareholder As Ulysses: Some Empirical Evidence On Why Investors In Public Corporations Tolerate Board Governance, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This Article evaluates two possible explanations for why shareholders of public corporations tolerate board control of corporate assets and outputs: the widely accepted monitoring hypothesis, which posits that shareholders rely on boards primarily to control the "agency costs" associated with turning day-to-day control over the firm over to self-interested corporate executives, and the mediating hypothesis, which posits that shareholders also seek to "tie their own hands" by ceding control to directors as a means of attracting the extracontractual, firm-specific investments of such stakeholder groups as executives, creditors, and rank-and- file employees.

Part I reviews each hypothesis and concludes that each ...


The Petrochina Syndrome: Regulating Capital Markets In The Anti-Globalization Era, Stephen F. Diamond Oct 2003

The Petrochina Syndrome: Regulating Capital Markets In The Anti-Globalization Era, Stephen F. Diamond

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


On The Proper Motives Of Corporate Directors (Or, Why You Don't Want To Invite Homo Economicus To Join Your Board), Lynn A. Stout Jan 2003

On The Proper Motives Of Corporate Directors (Or, Why You Don't Want To Invite Homo Economicus To Join Your Board), Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

One of the most important questions in corporate governance is how directors of public corporations can be motivated to serve the interests of the firm. Directors frequently hold only small stakes in the companies they manage. Moreover, a variety of legal rules and contractual arrangements insulate them from liability for business failures. Why then should we expect them to do a good job?

Conventional corporate scholarship has great difficulty wrestling with this question, in large part because conventional scholarship usually adopts the economist's assumption that directors are rational actors motivated purely by self-interest. This homo economicus model of behavior ...


Do Antitakeover Defenses Decrease Shareholder Wealth? The Ex Post/Ex Ante Valuation Problem, Lynn A. Stout Dec 2002

Do Antitakeover Defenses Decrease Shareholder Wealth? The Ex Post/Ex Ante Valuation Problem, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Over the past two decades, academics have generated a large empirical literature examining whether antitakeover defenses like poison pills or staggered board provisions decrease the wealth of shareholders in target corporations. Many studies, however, rely primarily on ex post analysis-they consider only how antitakeover defenses (ATDs) influence shareholder wealth after the corporation has been formed and, in some cases, long after the ATD was adopted. This Response argues that it may be impossible to fully understand the purpose or effects of ATDs without also considering their ex ante effects. In particular, ATDs may increase net target shareholder wealth ex ante ...


Enron And The Corporate Lawyer: A Primer On Legal And Ethical Issues, Roger C. Cramton Nov 2002

Enron And The Corporate Lawyer: A Primer On Legal And Ethical Issues, Roger C. Cramton

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The stunning collapse of Enron, coupled with the large number of accounting irregularities and apparent corporate fraud, have created a climate in which reform and improvement of the law governing corporate lawyers is underway. The ABA Task Force on Corporate Responsibility has issued a preliminary report that recommends promising changes in the rules of professional conduct. And, the Corporate Reform Act of 2002 has changed the landscape by authorizing the SEC to promulgate rules of professional conduct for securities lawyers and directing the SEC to issue a rule requiring securities lawyers to climb the corporate ladder to prevent or rectify ...


Bad And Not-So-Bad Arguments For Shareholder Primacy, Lynn A. Stout Jul 2002

Bad And Not-So-Bad Arguments For Shareholder Primacy, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In 1932, the Harvard Law Review published a debate between two preeminent corporate scholars on the subject of the proper purpose of the public corporation. On one side stood the renowned Adolph A. Berle, coauthor of the classic The Modern Corporation and Private Property. Berle argued for what is now called "shareholder primacy"—the view that the corporation exists only to make money for its shareholders. According to Berle, "all powers granted to a corporation or to the management of a corporation, or to any group within the corporation. . . [are] at all times exercisable only for the ratable benefit of ...


Secured Debt And The Likelihood Of Reorganization, Clas Bergström, Theodore Eisenberg, Stefan Sundgren May 2002

Secured Debt And The Likelihood Of Reorganization, Clas Bergström, Theodore Eisenberg, Stefan Sundgren

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Theory suggests that secured creditors may increasingly oppose a debtor’s reorganization as the value of their collateral approaches the amount of their claims. If reorganization occurs and the value of the firm appreciates, the secured creditor receives only part of the gain. But if the firm’s value depreciates, the secured creditor bears all of the cost. Secured claimants, thus, often have more to lose than to gain in reorganizations. This study of Finnish reorganizations filed in districts that account for most of the country’s reorganizations finds that creditor groups most likely to be well-secured are most likely ...