Disputation: Tore Fjørtoft
Cand. jur Tore Fjørfoft will defend his thesis: Financial Rights of Members of Cooperatives
- Professor Mads Andenæs, University of Oslo
- Supreme Court Justice Jan Schans Christensen, Copenhagen
- Supreme Court Justice Kristin Normann, Oslo
Chair of defence
- Professor Kåre Lilleholt, University of Oslo
- Professor Johan Giertsen, University of Bergen
What are your financial rights as a member of a Cooperative?
Cooperatives play an important role in Norwegian society. In total there are 18,000 cooperatives with more than 2.5 million members. The thesis analyses the financial rights of members of cooperatives, i.e. their rights to economic benefits arising from the membership.
Three main issues are discussed:
• What kind of financial rights do members of cooperatives have?
• How extensive are the rights?
• How are distributions from cooperatives divided among the members?
These questions are analysed from both an internal and an external point of view. On the one hand, the rules for cooperatives are analysed in the light of the international cooperative principles and values (the internal view). On the other hand, the rules governing co-operatives are compared with the corresponding rules for capital companies (the external view). The main focus is on Norwegian law, but also foreign and international law are included.
Cooperatives vs. Capital Companies
A main finding is that the financial rights which are of major importance in cooperatives are of minor importance in capital companies, and vice versa. The basic right in a cooperative – the right to do business with the entity – does not even have any parallel in companies. On the other hand, the right to distributions and to transfer and pledge the shares are in general more extensive in companies than in cooperatives. These differences are thoroughly explained in the thesis.
Some Core Questions
The thesis provides in-depth analyses of questions like: On what conditions may a cooperative refuse to do business with a member? To what extant may a cooperative distribute surplus to its members? When do favourable prices constitute an illegal distribution? What does it mean that distributions of surplus should be allocated among the members in proportion to the volume of their transactions with the cooperative? How may this economic participation of the members be measured?
Fjørtoft's thesis is the first Norwegian doctoral thesis in cooperative law.