In a recently published judgment (default judgment of 11 July 2019 – case no. IX ZR 210/19), the Insolvency Senate of the Federal Court of Justice [Bundesgerichtshof – BGH] affirmed that the practice of deferring claims arising from intra-group exchange contracts, which is quite common in many groups, is contestable under insolvency law – which, in view of the extensive insolvency law consequences of repayment to the insolvent assets, requires the greatest attention, particularly in times of an economic downturn.
In its decision of 24 January 2019 the Vienna Supreme Court [Oberster Gerichtshof – OGH] determined for the first time that so-called gender clauses in the company agreements of commercial partnerships are unethical and thus void because they violate the principle of equality guaranteed under constitutional law. The decision issued under Austrian law is considered to have a signaling effect on German corporate law. Against this background, regulations in regard to corporate succession should be critically reviewed and adjusted, if necessary.
The Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection presented under the name “Corporate Liability Law [Verbandssanktionengesetz]” the draft bill on combating corporate crime. If the Grand Coalition implements this draft in its planned form in the legislative process, practice will face far-reaching challenges. It is therefore advisable to already familiarize with the planned changes.
In May 2019, the Government Commission had already adopted a new version of the German Corporate Governance Codex (hereinafter “Codex 2019”). However, the Codex 2019 has not yet entered into force because the Government Commission initially wanted to wait for the ARUG II (Act Implementing the Second Shareholders’ Rights Directive [Gesetz zur Umsetzung der zweiten Aktionärsrechterichtlinie]) to enter into force. The Federal Parliament [Bundestag] and the Federal Council [Bundesrat] have now passed the ARUG II on 14th/19th November 2019. The act is expected to enter into force in January 2020, therefore the Codex 2019 is expected to enter into force soon. The set of rules with recommendations for the management of stock exchange-listed German companies has been fundamentally revised and contains a completely new structure and system. An overview of the most important innovations and changes.
The tax recognition of losses from shareholder loans has significantly changed over the past few years. While the Federal Court of Finance [Bundesfinanzhof – BFH] initially assumed that such losses could be partially deducted as subsequent acquisition costs if certain conditions were met, it allowed full deduction from capital income in 2017 with two judgments. The legislator now wants to change this. However, it is good for the taxpayer that the BFH has given consent to some legal structurings surrounding shareholder loans.
Our last newsletter (edition 2019|Q3) had already addressed two Supreme Court decisions concerning the employment of an externally hired managing director of a limited liability company [Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung – GmbH]. This article supplements the thematic complex, because in its ruling of 20 August 2019 (case no. II ZR 121/16), the Federal Court of Justice [Bundesgerichtshof – BGH] decided what consequences would arise if an employment contract with a managing director of a GmbH was not effectively concluded.