Georgia Law Professor Bruner presents on corporations and sustainability in University of Oslo Law forum

Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, presented yesterday in Company Law Forum, a video-seminar offered by Research Group Companies, Markets and Sustainability, a unit within the University of Oslo Faculty of Law.

The Research Group described Bruner’s presentation, “Private Power and Public Good: Harnessing the Corporation for a Sustainable Future”, as follows:

The corporate form is widely described, and on some accounts defined, by reference to a core set of purportedly fixed, intrinsic attributes. Such depictions of the corporate form typically reflect strong assumptions about which corporate constituencies should be regarded as internal participants in the corporation, and go hand-in-glove with strong theoretical claims about the corporation’s core utility and corporate law’s correlative content. Christopher Bruner argues, however, that such rigid and static depictions of the corporate form and corporate law have fundamentally misconstrued the nature of the entity, giving rise to a host of corporate pathologies that include excessive risk-taking and cost externalization without regard for environmental and social impacts.

Such hidebound conceptions of the corporation have effectively sacrificed the flexibility and dynamism of the corporate form, thereby obscuring potential governance-related regulatory options that could offer promising solutions to a host of vexing problems. In his new book project, tentatively titled Private Power and Public Good: Harnessing the Corporation for a Sustainable Future, Bruner will re-conceptualize the corporation, not as a fixed and rigid set of legal characteristics but rather as a dynamic legal technology that can be calibrated and re-calibrated in varying contexts, and over time, in response to a dynamic landscape. He will then build upon that framework to explore the corporation’s potential to contribute to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Georgia Law Prof Bruner presents “Leveraging Corporate Law” at Maryland Law Review symposium

Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, took part in last Friday’s 2020 Maryland Law Review symposium, titled “Delaware’s Emerging Competition and the Future of American Corporate Law.”

Bruner, currently on a research stay at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, provided his presentation remotely of his working paper titled “Leveraging Corporate Law: A Broader Account of Delaware’s Competition.” Available at SSRN, the paper explores the increasingly global competitive landscape that Delaware – in the words of symposium organizers, “historically the most important jurisdiction for corporate law in the United States” – faces in corporate chartering and related fields.

During research stay at Wits Law in South Africa, Georgia Law Prof Bruner presents on corporations, sustainability

Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law at the University of Georgia School of Law, recently gave a seminar presentation at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Law, as part of his ongoing research visit at that Johannesburg, South Africa, law school.

Title of the presentation was “Private Power and Public Good: Harnessing the Corporation for a Sustainable Future.” Its focus corresponded with Bruner’s research project, a comparative corporations book that:

1st, develops a new conception of the corporate form and associated rules of corporate law and governance; and

2d, builds on that framework to explore the corporation’s potential to contribute to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Foreign media quote Georgia Law Professor Elizabeth Burch on mass tort suits against Bayer herbicide Roundup

University of Georgia School of Law Professor Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, an expert on mass torts and complex litigation, recently was quoted in overseas news media regarding ongoing lawsuits against Bayer AG, the Germany-based multinational corporation.

The reporting centered on negotiations to end U.S. litigation in which tens of thousands of plaintiffs have alleged that glyphosate, an ingredient in the Bayer herbicide Roundup, is a carcinogen that causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In an article entitled “Bayer vor Glyphosat-Einigung – So sieht der teure Plan aus” (“Bayer before the Glyphosate Agreement – This Is What the Expensive Plan Looks Like”), reporters Bert Fröndhoff and Katharina Kort wrote:

“Legal expert Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, professor at the University of Georgia, thinks it makes sense in principle to withdraw the product from the market beyond agricultural use. ‘But even that doesn’t solve the problem of complaints that can come from those who have already used the product,’ warns the lawyer.”

(Translated from the original German.) The article appeared in Handelsblatt, a business newspaper headquartered in Düsseldorf.

A separate article on the same subject, “Q&A – What Are the Obstacles to Bayer Settling Roundup Lawsuits,” appeared in Israel’s Haaretz. It this article, Reuters reporter Tina Bellon wrote:

“Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on average can take up to 10 years to emerge, increasing the likelihood of claims being filed after the litigation has settled. Product liability settlements generally include a cut-off date for future claimants and need to be properly funded for a court to approve the agreement.

“As long as the product continues to be sold without changes to the label, plaintiffs may continue to file lawsuits, said Elizabeth Burch, a law professor at the University of Georgia.”

Professor Burch, holder of the Fuller E. Callaway Chair of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law,  is the author of Mass Tort Deals: Backroom Bargaining in Multidistrict Litigation (Cambridge University Press 2019). In 2017, she presented at an international conference held by Tel Aviv University.

Georgia Law Professors Cohen, Durkee present at Miami Law for ASIL international economic law biennial

Two international law experts here at the University of Georgia School of Law presented their scholarship and took part in panel discussions at “Designing International Economic Law: Challenges and Opportunities,” an American Society of International Law biennial conference held last week at the University of Miami School of Law.

Harlan G. Cohen, Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of our Dean Rusk International Law Center, presented “Nations and Markets,” and also participated in a roundtable on “Critical Perspectives on International Economic Law.”

Professor Melissa J. Durkee, J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law, presented “Interpretive Entrepreneurs and the Re-Design of International Economic Law.”

The 2-day conference included scholars and practitioners from Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar, South Africa, Switzerland, and Turkey, as well as the United States.

(photo credits here and here)

New Cambridge corporate law, governance, and sustainability handbook coedited by Georgia Law Professor Christopher Bruner

Cambridge University Press has just published a handbook co-edited by Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law.

Entitled The Cambridge Handbook of Corporate Law, Corporate Governance and Sustainability, the 700-plus-page book consists of 50 chapters, by 60 contributors from around the world.

Bruner and his co-editor, Professor Beate Sjåfjell of the University of Oslo in Norway, wrote the the introduction and conclusion, which establish the conceptual framing for the project, and each also contributed substantive chapters. Bruner’s is chapter 36, “Leaders or Laggards? Corporate Sustainability In Hong Kong And Singapore.”

The book received some strong endorsements, including from senior officials in the European Commission; the Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society Program; a world-leading climate scientist; and prominent law and business scholars from around the world. It features forewords by Mervyn King, an emeritus professor and judge in South Africa who is a global leader in sustainability-oriented reporting, and Vanderbilt Law Professor Margaret Blair, an economist and co-author of one of the more prominent theories of corporate governance.

The Handbook is available here.

Georgia Law Professor MJ Durkee publishes “Interstitial Space Law” at Washington University Law Review

Professor Melissa J. Durkee, the J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, has published her article “Interstitial Space Law” in the latest issue of the Washington University Law Review.

Here’s the abstract:

“Conventionally, customary international law is developed through the actions and beliefs of nations. International treaties are interpreted, in part, by assessing how the parties to the treaty behave. This Article observes that these forms of uncodified international law—custom and subsequent treaty practice—are also developed through a nation’s reactions, or failures to react, to acts and beliefs that can be attributed to it. I call this ‘attributed lawmaking.’

“Consider the new commercial space race. Innovators like SpaceX and Blue Origin seek a permissive legal environment. A Cold-War-era treaty does not seem adequately to address contemporary plans for space. The treaty does, however, attribute private sector activity to nations. The theory of attributed lawmaking suggests that the attribution renders the activity of private actors in space relevant to the development of binding international legal rules. As a doctrinal matter, private activity that is attributed to the state becomes “state practice” for the purpose of treaty interpretation or customary international law formation. Moreover, as a matter of realpolitik, private actors standing in the shoes of the state can force states into a reactive posture, easing the commercially preferred rules into law through the power of inertia and changes to the status quo. Attributed lawmaking is not a new phenomenon but it may have increasing significance at a time when multilateral lawmaking is at an ebb, lines between public and private entities are blurring, and the question of attribution becomes both more complex and more urgent.”

The article’s also available at SSRN.

Georgia Law Professor Bruner presents on comparative corporate governance methods at Fordham Law workshop

Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, took part this past weekend in a 2-day Comparative Corporate Governance Workshop at Fordham Law School in New York.

The  workshop centered around a new volume in progress, Research Handbook on Comparative Corporate Governance (Edward Elgar, forthcoming).

Bruner presented his own draft chapter, “Methods of Comparative Corporate Governance,” and also commented on draft chapters by two other contributors.

Georgia Law Professor Melissa J. Durkee presents in Greece on customary international law, states, corporations and global commons

Professor Melissa J. Durkee, the J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, presented her international law scholarship in Greece earlier this month.

Durkee spoke on “‘Attributed’ Customary International Law: States, Corporations and the Global Commons” at a panel entitled “Corporations, International Law and Human Rights For Sustainable Development.” The panel formed part of a meeting on “States, Corporations and Commons: Dissonance and Accord,” which took place the day before the start of the annual conference of the European Society of International Law, held this year in Athens, Greece.

Organizing the pre-conference meeting was the International Environmental Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law. It took place at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in northeastern Greece, and featured, in addition to Durkee, scholars from Germany, Greece, Italy, Russia, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom.

Belgium portion of the Global Governance Summer School concludes with an array of international law topics

LEUVEN – Today marks the final day of classroom sessions of the Georgia Law – Leuven Global Governance School, and the final day students will be resident in Leuven. Students took part in three sessions, which focused on business and human rights, international security governance, and concluded with an overview of challenges to international law and global governance.

First, Dr. Axel Marx (left), Deputy Director of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, presented on business and human rights. After examining several case studies in which corporate activities adversely affected human rights, participants learned how supply chain and corporate governance structures can affect a business’ ability to manage human rights. Dr. Marx introduced key global governance instruments, such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, that can be used to hold states and corporations accountable for human rights violations.

IMG_6489Second, Kathleen Doty (right), Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center at University of Georgia School of Law, led an interactive session on global security governance. Professor Doty introduced students to global security governance, including international humanitarian law and arms control law. She explained the development of this body of law, focusing on arms control agreements, and introduced several major regimes and their common features. The students then participated in an exercise; faced with a global security crisis, students were tasked with addressing it via treaty negotiation, illustrating the difficulty of international cooperation.

img_6512.jpgThe final session of the day provided an overview of international perspectives on and challenges to global governance, conducted by Professor Dr. Jan Wouters (left), Director of the Leuven Center for Global Governance Studies and the Co-Director of the Global Governance Summer School. Professor Wouters explained the history of globalization and the increase of economic, environmental, and human interdependence. He then explored challenges to the international system, such as anti-globalism, nationalism, and populism.

Student Ayman Tartir receives his diploma from Axel Marx.

Closing out a successful week of studies, students and faculty gathered at the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe for a concluding reception. Axel Marx and Kathleen Doty presented participants with attestations of completion.

Tomorrow, students from the University of Georgia School of Law will travel to The Hague, where they will visit international tribunals and organizations.