To all those reading this I am David Gibbs; I am a Lecturer in Law at the University of East Anglia.

I created this blog as a general out-let of ideas for my research, as well as keeping those interested up-to-date on my research and general interests.

I completed my PhD thesis at the University of East Anglia in 2014. The thesis was recommended for the award of PhD with no corrections. My external examiner was Prof. Simon Deakin (Cambridge) and internal examiner was Prof. Morten Hviid.
My PhD research centred on directors' duties and company law. The thesis was titled 'Non-Executive Self-Interest: Fiduciary Duties and Corporate Governance'. It was a doctrinal and empirical study on whether self-interest was suitably controlled amongst non-executive directors.

My supervisors were Prof. Mathias Siems, Prof. Duncan Sheehan, Dr. Sara Connolly and Dr. Rob Heywood

All opinions of any existing or future blogpost are my own. They do not necessarily represent the views of any of my associated institutions.
ORCID 0000-0002-6596-8536

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

European Commission Consultation

The EC are seeking public consultation on the future of European company law.

If wish to respond to the consultation you can do so here. It has a variety of questions mainly relating to regulatory competition in the EU. One set of questions focuses on the European Model Company Act project that is focusing on producing a European "benchmark" for company law but is not a legal instrument nor does it require Member States to implement a Directive or create a new business form.

It may end up something similar to the Model Articles in the UK, which in practice are rarely used in full. The benefit of the Model Articles is that they do serve as a default and have some legal authority. However, the Model Act does not have this important ingredient. With decades of disagreement with EU Member States over company law evidenced by the Directives on Takeovers and the European Company (Societas Europaea or SE) one must have doubts about the EMCA's belief that Member States will hesitate from deviating from the Model.

However, in principle I do support further harmonisation of company law in Europe. I do have certain qualms about a Model Act with no legal authority though (unless the Member States implement rules from it of course).

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Conferences and a quick stand on the soapbox

So, it has been a busy month and the blog has been neglected.

Thus, I thought a traditional quick update on the goings on and things that have taken my interest to tide me over till I have time to write a more detailed post. I have one up my sleeve on equity's principle that an agent cannot be liable for obligations taken on by his/her principal independently of the agent in the context of corporate directors.

Anyway for now I have had my abstract to present at the International Graduate Legal Research Conference (IGLRC) 2012 at King's College London on April 16th-17th accepted. I will be writing a 6000 word paper looking at the function of non-executive directors to determine if they owe fiduciary duties and applying that to multiple directorships whilst incorporating some descriptive statistics from my data.

On Thursday I also had the privilege of meeting Lady Hale Supreme Court Justice. She presented at UEA on 'It's a Man's World? Redressing the Balance' for the first ever High Sheriff's Law Lecture. The lecture was very interesting and edifying. The turn out by students and members of the public was also pleasing with a packed lecture theatre that seats 485.

And to finish on two recent news stories/articles that have taken my interest. First, it always pleasing to read that the place you live is one of the happiest places to live with Norwich coming in 7th.

On a less pleasing note was a piece in the Guardian about the value of a 2.1 degree in response to the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR). Whilst I agree that a 2.1 should not be a sift so freely used in some cases, I certainly disagree that the majority of students are of the opinion a 2.1 is a free pass to a job; and the notion universities are to blame for the lack of faith employers have in graduates.

Academics for a long time have been making students aware that a 2.1 is not, as the article refers to, "a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory'. Most students I have met and taught are aware that a 2.1 by itself will not get you a job. The vast majority undertake extra curricular activity. Thus to say students think this of a 2.1 is clearly ill thought through. Problems with applicants are unlikely to stem from them requiring a 2.1 to get through the initial sift. At Law School, students are trained in a vast array of skills to equip them for life in employment. However, that professional development needs to continue at their employer. The employer needs to recognise and facilitate professional development rather than trying to pass the blame on to the education sector and the value of a 2.1.

A 2.1 certainly is not a blunt instrument. They signal many skills a student possesses. From a legal point they demonstrate analytical ability, communication skills, ability to identify problems and many others. I certainly would suggest increased transparency with employers as to what a 2.1 actually means. However, schools give students many other opportunities outside the formal assessing to demonstrate worth to employers. Mooting and negotiation competitions, pro bono and charity work, sports, law society to name just a few. Again, if employers are having problems employing graduates perhaps all the blame is not with universities but with the employers themselves and how they recruit.

A 2.1 is also a general standard approach that makes it easier for employers to recruit. Imagine if all schools adopted different methods of assessment and grade classifications. It will create the presumption that everyone attending Law School wants to be a lawyer and every History student wants to be a Historian. This is simply not the case. The rigidity of the current grade classifications is offset by the extra curricular activities that offer flexibility to students to develop a variety of skills that are suited to many different employers. Thus, trying to incorporate a more well-rounded method of assessment is unlikely to have the desired effect.

It also infers and brings in to question the quality of marking. Rigorous marking takes place at institutions across the country. Thus, I welcome the HEAR report but this article makes out as if all the blame comes from universities and marking systems. A 2.1 is merely part of a student's time at University and any student thinking otherwise will be in for a rude awakening; but for a long time those thinking otherwise have been in the minority. 

Over the next year students will now get a more detailed transcript of achievement and a European Diploma Supplement. This will allow for a more transparent system to make grade classifications across EU HE institutions easier to compare. However, one does not see how such new procedures will assist employers to any greater extent other than being able to more accurately assess the worth of other EU grade classifications. I doubt students having an extra piece of paper will significantly increase employers' faith in graduates.