Thematic areas of priority
The Company Law Group’s three thematic areas of priority for 2017-2021 are 1) Companies, Corporate Groups and Networks, 2) Investors, Finance and Markets, 3) Public Entities as Market Actors. The three thematic areas are integrated in a number of ways, as is also apparent from our projects.
Companies, Corporate Groups and Networks
The research encompasses the regulatory ecology of companies. Companies are here broadly defined to encompass all organisational forms for business. The Company Law Group aims at strengthening our research both in terms of the company (with shareholders) as the dominant form, and on other organisational forms, such as cooperatives, general and limited partnerships, foundations, state enterprises and public-private partnerships, newer forms such as digital networks and forms that we do not have in Norway such as trusts.
We aim to identify and understand better the mix of regulation and corporate governance necessary for sustainable activity, both for society and for the businesses themselves, by these different legal forms, both individually as across business networks. Initiatives from the EU concerning group taxation and company reporting emphasises the need for investigating the actors’ choice of organisational form and group and network structures to achieve certain positions, especially in terms of taxation and competition law.
Many business enterprises are complex corporate groups, transactional and contractual networks and supply and sales chains which span the globe. While the individual companies are regulated as single entities nationally, this global system of production and distribution gives rise to questions about the scope, appropriateness and sufficiency of national, regional and international regulation. Complex and opaque structures make the identification of actual control difficult. In turn, this gives rise to questions about the connection between control and legal and economic responsibility for legal compliance, for economic transactions within and beyond corporate groups, for workers’ conditions in global supply and distribution chains, and for impact on the natural environment.
Our research provides new insights into complex business structures, networks and supply and distribution chains, and the interaction between national, regional and international regulatory regimes, including standards and guidelines, as well as private contractual practice. We include in our research the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. One of the topical research issues here is due diligence, a key mechanism in these principles and guidelines as well as in the EU’s new reporting regime, and what this means for financial risk assessment as an important element in the board’s role.
The Company Law Group encompasses research focusing on the economic actors’ interests as well as research that integrates broader societal perspectives.
Topics include national, European and comparative company law and other aspects of business law, including international, European and national accounting and auditing law, and company tax law.
Investors, Finance and Markets
Banks and other financial institutions are often large and complex corporate networks. Our research contributes to a deeper understanding of the connections, interactions and conflicts between different types of investors, financial institutions, financial and capital markets and other markets, and their impact on business, economy and society.
Financialisation is a global megatrend that has enormous impact on the economy (as illustrated by the financial crises) and on business. Insight into this development requires a deep understanding of investors, institutions and financial markets. It requires an investigation of legal and social norms and actors, including international European, national and industry regulation, of the different segments of investors, including public, private and hybrid institutional investors, of fund managers and of the significance of financial markets.
We analyse the international trends in use of financial instruments, corporate and contractual constructions, for example hybrid and synthetic options, and contribute to knowledge on the interaction between public regulation and private regulation through standards and guidelines (for example international accounting and auditing standards) as well as international investment treaties.
Topics include international, European and national banking law, finance law and capital markets law, securities law, and accounting and auditing law, as well as international investment law.
Public Entities as Market Actors
The research encompasses the multifaceted role of public entities as market actors. The public sector has a number of key roles in the economy: as legislator and supervisor, as direct investor, also as controlling shareholder, as institutional investor, as public procurer and in other contractual relations.
Our research investigates the interaction and conflict between the public sector’s roles in the economy, including both state and municipality. This encompasses the state’s and municipalities’ extensive involvement as shareholders, from minority investor to owner of all of the shares in municipal and state enterprises, and in public entities such as the Government Pension Fund Global, the Government Pension Fund Norway (Folketrygdfondet), and the municipalities’ joint pension fund (KLP). This covers issues such as the public sector’s role where private actors are responsible for public activities with state control (and vice versa), and as public procurer.
Topics include, in addition to topics under the two above areas of priority, also constitutional law and administrative law, public international law, EU and EEA law, contractual law and public procurement law.