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Acting in concert: BGH substantiates individual case exception

BGH, Urt. v. 25.09.2018, II ZR 190/17

Coordinated actions of shareholders of listed stock corporations (often on the basis of voting or pooling agreements) are to be assumed to be "acting in concert". All shareholders involved are then mutually attributed all other voting rights of the other parties to the agreement from the shares held (cf. Section 34 (2) WpHG or Section 30 (2) WpÜG).

Besides acting in a coordinated way, the assumption of acting in concert also presupposes that it is not a matter of coordinated conduct in an individual case.

When such an individual case exists or how an individual case is to be determined is highly controversial:

In some cases, the focus is on whether it is an individual case in terms of quality (material), i.e. whether the orientation of the company is not influenced or changed in the long term.

Other parts assess the question of the individual case purely quantitatively (formally), so that an individual case would exist if the concerted behaviour can be implemented by a one-off action that does not require repetition, even if this involves a lasting change or influence on the company.

In its decision, the BGH has now opted for a formal, quantitative approach, thus ensuring significantly more legal certainty in this matter.

Ausschluss des Einsichtsrechts bei der KG

OLG München, Urteil vom 31.01.2018, Az. 7 U 2600/17 

Die Einsichtsrechte des Kommanditisten gem. § 166 I HGB sind dispositiv und können daher im Gesellschaftsvertrag abbedungen werden; § 51a GmbHG findet weder direkt noch analog Anwendung - auch nicht bei der Einheits-KG.

Das OLG München hat mit der o.a. Entscheidung klargestellt, dass die gesetzlichen Einsichtsrechte des Kommanditisten einer KG in die Bücher und Papiere (nach § 166 Absatz 1 HGB) gesellschaftsvertraglich ausgeschlossen werden können. Einschränkend in dieser Entscheidung jedenfalls insoweit, dass dies zumindest dann gilt, wenn ein WP die Richtigkeit des JA bestätigt hat. Es spielt nach Ansicht des OLG auch keine Rolle, ob sich sich um eine sog. Einheits-KG handelt, bei der die KG der alleinige Gesellschafter der Komplementär-GmbH  ist. Wesentlich war die Feststellung, dass die REgelung des § 51a GmbH, der die Auskunfts- und Einsichtsrechte in der GmbH regelt, nicht anwendbar ist - und zwar weder analog noch direkt.

Brexit is approaching. But what does “Brexit” imply for the companies operating into and out of the UK?

The UK has initiated the official EU withdrawal process on March 29th 2017. Since then, a substantial array of our clients that operate into and out of the UK, struggle with the legal uncertainty caused by this process. The transactions are often intended to include continuing obligations lasting over the course of several years and thus would be subject to any and all decisions the representatives from both sides of the canal render.

Not without good reason our clients asked us: How can we protect ourselves against adverse circumstances arising in connection with Brexit?

It was clear to us that any contract would need a so-called “Brexit clause”, which is nothing more than a contractual provision which triggers some change in rights/obligations as a result of a defined Brexit-related event. The clause therefore needs to set out the specific Brexit related event triggering the clause and the contractual consequences of that event. Such clause would have to be negotiated and agreed upon additionally to the already commonly known “material adverse change”- and “force majeure”- clauses.

Since we’re part of a multi-national network of highly skilled and prestigious law firms and it is our standard practice to always custom-tailor solutions for our clients, we were able to easily advise and offer solutions in each and every case, by inter alia establishing open communication channels in a fast, efficient and reliable manner. These channels allowed the people involved to define and agree on trigger events which are sufficiently specific for the respective contract and also stipulate the according consequences. 

The respective clauses were drafted, negotiated and agreed upon in a relatively short period of time. Since a boilerplate-trigger such as “when the UK ceases to be a member of the European Union” creates uncertainty by itself and potentially leads to a loss in valuable exchange of goods/services or even costly litigation, our clients will benefit from our developed wording substantially once Brexit “happens”.

Beschränkte Auskunftsrechte des Kommanditisten

2017/05/08, Markus Muenzenmaier

BGH, Beschluss vom 14. 6. 2016, Az. II ZB 10/15

Das in § 166 Abs. 3 HGB geregelte außerordentliche Informationsrecht des Kommanditisten ist nicht auf Auskünfte beschränkt, die der Prüfung des Jahresabschlusses dienen oder zum Verständnis des Jahresabschlusses erforderlich sind.

Der BGH entschied nunmehr, dass § 166 Abs. 3 HGB das Informationsrecht des Kommanditisten bei Vorliegen eines wichtigen Grundes auch auf Auskünfte über die Geschäftsführung des Komplementärs allgemein erweitert und die damit im Zusammenhang stehenden Unterlagen der Gesellschaft. Das außerordentliche Informationsrecht wird insoweit durch das Informationsbedürfnis des Kommanditisten begrenzt, das sich aus dem wichtigen Grund ergibt, so der BGH aaO.