Digital Law SIG Lunch Talks


The ELI Digital Law SIG continued its Digital Lunch Talk series with two further talks providing new insights on how the COVID-19 crisis impacts corporate law and the current debate about platform regulation.

On 28 May SIG Chairs Christoph Busch and Alberto De Franceschi welcomed Professor Florian Möslein from Marburg University, Germany, for a talk on ‘Virtual Shareholder Meetings: Driven by COVID-19 and Blockchain Technology?’. In his talk, Professor Möslein provided an overview of recent legislation enacted by several EU member states which allows corporations to hold virtual shareholder meetings. In his view, these legislative actions represent an impressive example of a ‘bottom-up harmonisation’ of member states' regulatory frameworks. Professor Möslein linked these developments with the current debate on the role of blockchain technology in the field of corporate law. He explained how blockchain technology could be used for facilitating identification and legitimation of shareholders or the exercise of shareholder rights. In the discussion which followed Professor Möslein’s talk, the participants agreed that there is a need for further research regarding the potential impact of blockchain technology for facilitating virtual shareholder meetings. This could be an interesting topic to be explored in the context of the ELI Digital Law SIG.

In a further lunch talk, held on 11 June, Professors Christoph Busch, Gerhard Dannemann and Hans Schulte-Nölke, who have been involved as Reporters in the elaboration of the ELI Model Rules on Online Platforms, looked into how digital platforms react to the COVID-19 crisis. For example, Amazon recently changed its shipping policy and decided to temporarily prioritise ‘essential products’. It is a question open for debate if such a differentiated treatment of platform users is justified or could amount to an abuse of dominance under Art. 102(c) TFEU. It was also discussed whether an abrupt change of shipping policy would be in compliance with the P2B Regulation (EU) 2019/1150. In their talk, the three speakers also provided a very interesting comparative analysis of how different accommodation platforms such as Airbnb, Booking and HomeAway, reacted to the wave of cancellations caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The examples provided by the speakers sparked a lively discussion among the participants of the lunch talk.

The series of lunch talks will continue over the next few months with further talks on current issues in law and technology. Keep an eye on the ELI Website for details.