Tales from Corporate Law – Storytelling opens academic perspectives
A telegram from the Federal Banking Supervisory Office sealed the fate of the Cologne-based bank Herstatt on 26 June 1974. The bank’s license was withdrawn and all counters at the bank were immediately closed. Within hours tumult broke out amongst frustrated depositors and investors. These events were preceded by rescue efforts undertaken at the highest level to avert the largest bank collapse in the German post-war period. This and twenty-two other “Tales from Corporate Law" are recounted in the eponymous volume edited by Institute Director Holger Fleischer and Jan Thiessen, featuring contributions from six current and three former Institute staff members.
The Herstatt case led to civil proceedings which ultimately produced ground-breaking BGH judgments. The developments prompted a broad legal and economic policy discussion regarding more effective protection for bank customers. The lessons learned set in motion the improvement of deposit insurance and contributed over the long-term to the professionalization of supervisory board activities.
The value of tracing the stories behind high court rulings is demonstrated by the volume’s more than twenty authors, with analyses drawing upon factual settings prominently featuring actors such as Mannesmann, Otto, the German Automobile Club (ADAC), Rolf Breuer and Leo Kirch. The stories create an arch across time, spanning from the start of the 20th century and the emergence of the GmbH & Co. KG in the Munich business realm to the far-reaching changes in the German media landscape occurring around the turn of the millennium.
The retold company-law decisions, traced on the basis of historical materials, are the result of a research series initiated in 2015 by a business and economic law working group led by Institute Director Holger Fleischer. The storytelling approach of this project invites readers to look behind the scenes and obtain a holistic view of corporate law, thereby allowing a better appreciation of the field’s complex economic and political strands as well its historical and philosophical foundations.
“By embedding court jurisprudence into an economic and historical context, the larger lines of legal development become visible. The case-based approach provides a valuable counterpoint to the abstractly formulated principles derived by high courts and to the large-format conceptions of corporate law. This narrative side of company law has been neglected to this point," explains Fleischer.
Further, "Tales from Corporate Law" provides fresh impetus for basic research serving to benefit both legal scholarship and court rulings. Last but not least, these stories also have pedagogical value: While storytelling has always been a part of legal education, this method also lends itself to a uniform understanding of corporate law rules and principles amongst practitioners. Experience suggests that, as compared to abstract principles, educational materials depicting real-life legal violations garner far more attention from the addressees of a legal rule.
- Holger Fleischer: Gesellschaftsrechts-Geschichten – eine Forschungsagenda
- Holger Fleischer / Till Wansleben: § 1 – Portlandzementfabrik GmbH & Co. KG – BayObLGZ 13 (1913), 69
- Jan Thiessen: § 2 – Tornado-Fabrik – RG DNotZ 1944, 195
- Jan Thiessen: § 3 – Sternbrauerei Regensburg – BGHZ 9, 157
- Holger Fleischer / Elena Dubovitskaya: § 4 – Faba Fahrradbau GmbH – BGHZ 21, 378
- Jan Thiessen: § 5 – Lufttaxi – BGHZ 31, 258
- Jan Thiessen: § 6 – Feldmühle – BVerfGE 14, 263
- Holger Fleischer / Jakob Hahn: § 7 – Rektor – BGHZ 45, 204
- Jan Lieder / Valentin Müller: § 8 – Kali und Salz – BGHZ 71, 40
- Holger Fleischer / Stefan Korch: § 9 – Herstatt – BGHZ 75, 96 und BGHZ 75, 120
- Holger Fleischer / Elke Heinrich: § 10 – Holzmüller – BGHZ 83, 122
- Lars Leuschner: § 11 – ADAC – BGHZ 85, 84
- Jessica Schmidt: § 12 – Meilicke – EuGH, Slg. 1992, I-4919
- Klaus Ulrich Schmolke: § 13 – Girmes – BGHZ 129, 136
- Jens Koch: § 14 – ARAG / Garmenbeck – BGHZ 135, 244
- Frauke Wedemann: § 15 – ARGE Weißes Roß – BGHZ 146, 341
- Walter Bayer: § 16 – Macrotron – BGHZ 153, 47
- Petra Buck-Heeb: § 17 – Infomatec – BGH NJW 2004, 2668, BGHZ 160, 134 und BGHZ 160, 149
- Thilo Kuntz: § 18 – Mannesmann – BGHSt 50, 331
- Jan-Erik Schirmer: § 19 – Kirch / Breuer – BGHZ 166, 84
- Johannes Wertenbruch: § 20 – Otto – BGHZ 170, 283
- Holger Fleischer/Jennifer Trinks: § 21 – Von Autokran bis Trihotel – BGHZ 95, 330 bis BGHZ 173, 246
- Gregor Bachmann: § 22 – Siemens / Neubürger – LG München I NZG 2014, 345
- Sebastian Mock: § 23 – Kornhaas – EuGH NJW 2016, 223
- Holger Fleischer: Schlussbetrachtung: Gesellschaftsrechtliche Zeitgeschichte im Fallformat
The research project considering company law stories was initiated with a programmatic essay, published in 2015 by Holger Fleischer:
In May 2015, a two-day conference attended by German, Austrian and Swiss company law scholars took place at the Vienna University of Economics; the findings were collected in a 2016 conference volume: