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International Comparative Law

Law: Corporate Governance, ESG and Sustainability

Please note, the following course details are subject to change and are updated regularly.

Week 1

Contemporary Corporate Governance Perspectives: Reporting on non-financial matters and the rise and fall of shareholder primacy (Monday)

Prof. Dr. Jean Du Plessis
Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

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Prof. Jean Du Plessis: Watch the course preview

During Professor Du Plessis’ lecture, you will learn the meaning of corporate governance and how significant it is for keeping companies, their executives and directors responsible for managing the business of the corporation to ensure long-term and sustainable growth for the corporation and all corporate stakeholders. The importance of the interests of all corporate stakeholders will be particularly emphasised. There will also be a specific focus on reporting on non-financial matters like the environment, social responsibilities and governance (ESG).

A reasonably new trend, namely Integrated Reporting (<IR>), will be significantly discussed because it is integrated into the thinking and sustainable long-term wealth of countries and the world economy.
We have reached the stage that, as far as corporations are concerned, it can simply not be “business as usual” as it is a guaranteed way in which irreversible damages to the environment and society in its entirety will happen. As part of these fundamental issues, the theoretical and practical consequences of the shareholder primacy model of corporate law will be analysed critically. International sustainable goals will be considered and just how they can be achieved.

The focus of the course will also be on the legal and other consequences for corporations, their executives and directors if corporate social responsibilities are ignored. The relevant issue of “corporate culture” will also be discussed, with international perspectives, in particular, the 2019 Hayne Banking Commission Report of Australia, which revealed some ugly sides of corporate behaviour and bad corporate governance practices in the banking and financial sectors in Australia.

An Asian Perspective on Corporate Governance, ESG and Sustainability (Wednesday - Friday)

Prof. Dr. Kerstin Steiner
La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

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Prof. Kerstin Steiner: Watch the Course Preview

Investment decisions are increasingly based on environmental, social, and governance concerns, posing a multitude of risks to long term sustainable economic growth and returns. These concerns are mostly discussed from a Western point of view, with its foundation grounded in Western philosophy and with a focus on Western practise etc.

However, they could also be rooted in Asian philosophies, religions and thoughts with alternative practises, especially in Asian countries. Indeed, Asia is uniquely positioned to investigate those alternative conceptualisations mainly since several Southeast Asian countries have a dual economy, one functioning according to conventional/ Western principles juxtaposed by an economy that operates according to Islamic rules.

The series will introduce both, conventional and Islamic concepts on corporate governance, ESG and sustainability and how they are operating in particular countries in Asia.

Week 2

Corporate Governance

Prof. Dr. Melanie Reid
Duncan School of Law, Lincoln Memorial University, Tennessee, USA

The course focuses on corporate governance topics from a legal perspective, on the impact of company values and employee relations on potential corporate criminal liability. Prof. Reid explores social concerns with respect to the need for diversity (including emotional intelligence) in hiring in this new "Conceptual Age" and addresses corporate governance concerns through the use of case studies, for example, the Enron case, the wire fraud case against Pilot Flying, Bernie Madoff as head of Madoff Investment Securities, the collapse of the US subprime mortgage market, money laundering in the Baltics and the ABLV Bank, consumer protection and the Ford Pinto case.

Gregor Vechtel
University of Bayreuth, Germany

The students receive material (July 6th) on the subject of corporate governance, ESG and sustainability for evaluation in supervised working groups and prepare a presentation on the assigned topic (July 12th and 13th). This presentation is part of the assessment and counts 3 ECTS in total. At the end of the course, there will be a multiple choice test on Asia and USA with 3 ECTS in total.

Course details can also be found on the course flyer.


Prof. Dr. Jessica Schmidt
University of Bayreuth, Germany

Prof. Dr. Nina Nestler
University of Bayreuth, Germany

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