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Principle

No. X.2 - Piercing the corporate veil

(a) The separate legal personality of a corporation (“corporate veil”) may be disregarded in exceptional cases in order to hold a shareholder liable for the corporation’s debts.

(b) Exceptional cases are cases of:

i)

clear under-capitalization,

ii)

mingling of corporate and financial spheres, especially in case of total control of the parent company over the business and financial affairs of its subsidiary, or

iii)

fraud.

Commentary
1 The Principle reflects situations in which the idea of the nature of corporations which constitute entities that are separate and distinct from its members, who are liable only to the extent that they have contributed to the company's capital, must be disregarded due to the application of the Principle of good faith.

2 In all three scenarios listed in the Principle, the concept of the corporation as a separate legal entity is misused by its founders or initiators. In these cases, the corporation is a mere "façade", used by its founders to shield themselves from claims raised against them by their creditors by hiding behind the corporate entity which they have established but which does not possess any assets necessary to satisfy the claims of these creditors.

3 It must be noted that the Principle is an exception to the basic rule that corporations as separate legal entities are acknowledged. The application of the Principle therefore requires a very strict test, i.e. clear evidence of under-capitalization, mingling of spheres or fraud, so as to ensure that the Principle remains the exception.

Please cite as: "Commentary to Trans-Lex Principle , http://www.trans-lex.org/962000"
References
Arbitral Awards
CRCICA Award no. 120/1998, in: Mohie Eldin I. Alam Eldin, Arbitral Awards of the Cairo Regional Centre of International Commercial Arbitration II (1997-2000), The Hague 2003, 25
ICC Award No. 4131, YCA 1984, at 131 et seq. (also published in: Clunet 1983, at 899 et seq.)
ICC Award No. 5721, Clunet 1990, at 1019 et seq.
ICC Award No. 8385, Clunet 1997, at 1061 et seq.
Court Decisions
ICJ Barcelona Traction, ICJ Rep. 1970, at 3 et seq.
Prest v. Petrodel Resources Limited and others, [2013] UKSC 34, 12 June 2013
Salomon v. Salomon & Co Ltd [1897] AC 22
VTB Capital plc (Appellant) v Nutritek International Corp and others (Respondents), [2013] UKSC 5 (6 February 2013)
Doctrine
Buxbaum, Richard M., The Formation of Marketable Share Companies, in: David/ Conrad (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Bd. XIII, Tübingen 1974, at 36 et seq.
Derains, Yves, note to ICC Award No. 8385, Clunet 1997, at 1068 et seq.
Domingo, Ortega, Rodriguez-Antolin, Zambrana, Principios de Derecho Global, Navarra, 2006
Drüke, Heiner, Die Haftung der Muttergesellschaft für die Schulden der Tochtergesellschaft, Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Munich 1990
Grabinski, Klaus, Die kollisionsrechtliche Behandlung des Durchgriffs, Frankfurt a.M. 1991
Mann, Frederick Alexander, State Corporations in International Relations, in: Mann (ed.), Further Studies in International Law, Oxford 1990, at 199 et seq.
Note, General Principles of Law in International Commercial Arbitration, 101 Harv.L.Rev. 1987/88, at 1816 et seq.
Posner, Richard A., The Rights of Creditors of Affiliated Corporations, 43 U.Chic.L.Rev. 1975/76, at 499 et seq.
Schanze, Erich, Konzernspezifischer Gläubigerschutz: Vergleich der Regelungsansätze, in: Mestmäcker/ Behrends (eds.), Das Gesellschaftsrecht der Konzerne im internationalen Vergleich, Baden-Baden 1991, at 473 et seq.
Seidl-Hohenveldern, Ignaz, Corporations in and under International Law, Cambridge 1987
Contract Clauses
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