In 1520, the nearly-50-year-old German artist Albrecht Dürer travelled to the Low Countries. The Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I had just died, and his grandson Charles V was about to be crowed in Aachen as his successor. Dürer, both fleeing plague in his hometown of Nuremberg and seeking to confirm with the new emperor the continuation of his pension, roamed widely for more than a year throughout what is now the Netherlands and Belgium. Dürer meticulously recorded his experience and observations in a journal that miraculously (and fortunately for us) has survived. As memorialized in the journal, the curiosity that guided Dürer’s path was frequently rewarded; among other things, he was among the first to see the incredible first shipment of Aztec treasures that Hernán Cortés shipped back to Europe from his first voyage to Mexico as they were unloaded in Antwerp.

There was one occasion on his journey when Dürer’s curiosity was not immediately rewarded. When Dürer heard that high tides and a strong wind had stranded a whale on the shore of Zeeland, Dürer set out by ship with friends to see it. He endured near shipwreck along the way, and upon arrival learned that the same storm that had beached the whale had washed it back out to sea.

This anecdote about the whale Dürer sought but never saw is the subject of an interesting and imaginative  — but also challenging — new book by Philip Hoare, Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World (here). The book is essentially an extended meditation on what might have happened if Dürer had succeeded in seeing the whale. Using a discursive method that matches close study of Dürer’s fabulous artistic legacy with a sort of free association that roams extravagantly over the last five centuries of art, literature and history, Hoare – with the absconded whale never far from the center of his thoughts — deeply considers the relationship between art and nature, and how art illuminates the world in which we live.
Continue Reading Sunday Arts: Albert and the Whale

Michael Hendricks
Burkhard Fassbach

As I discussed in a blog post at the time, in June 2021 VW announced that a settlement had been reached in the D&O liability action that had been filed against the company’s executives in connection with the “Dieselgate” scandal. The settlement, which had an aggregate value of approximately $351 million, was approved by VW shareholders in July 2021. However, minority shareholders have now filed a legal action against VW in an effort to oppose the settlement. In the following guest post, Michael Hendricks and Burkhard Fassbach review the minority shareholders’ legal action and discuss its implications. Michael is the founder of the German D&O specialist broker hendricks GmbH and Burkhard is a D&O-lawyer in private practice in Germany. I would like to thank Michael and Burkhard for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Michael and Burkhard’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: VW Dieselgate: Minority Shareholders File Suit Against D&O Settlement

Volkswagen, several former executives –including Martin Winterkorn, the former Chair of the company’s Board of Management–  and the company’s D&O insurers have reached an agreement to settle damages claims the company asserted against the executives relating to the company’s “Dieselgate” scandal. In March 2021, following a years-long investigation of the scandal by an outside law firm, the company filed the claims, in which the executives were alleged to have breached their duties to the company. The settlement, worth in the aggregate approximately $351 million in U.S. dollar terms, includes substantial payments both by the individual executives and by the company’s D&O insurers. The D&O insurers’ contribution reflects a separate settlement between the company and its insurers with respect to insurance coverage issues. A copy of VW’s June 9, 2021 press release describing the settlement can be found here.
Continue Reading Former Execs, Insurers Settle VW Dieselgate D&O Liability Claims

Berlin Cathedral

The D&O Diary was on assignment in northern Europe last week, with stops in Berlin, Hamburg, and Paris. I know from past experience that traveling in northern Europe in January can be a formidable experience. On this trip, however, mild and dry weather conditions generally prevailed, allowing for some really pretty enjoyable travel experiences.
Continue Reading January in Northern Europe

Frank Hülsberg
Burkhard Fassbach

In the following guest post, Frank Hülsberg, a Partner for Governance, Risk, Compliance & Technology at Warth & Klein Grant Thornton AG in Düsseldorf, and Burkhard Fassbach, a D&O-lawyer in private practice in Germany, take a look at the EU’s new Whistleblower Directive. I would like to thank Frank and Burkhard for allowing me to publish their article. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Frank and Burkhard’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: The European Union Whistleblower Directive: Overdue Protective Shield

Luxembourg City

The D&O Diary finished its European itinerary last week with a visit to Frankfurt for an event there, followed by a weekend stopover in Luxembourg before heading home. The pleasant weather I  enjoyed earlier in the week in Switzerland abandoned me in Frankfurt, where it rained, but the nice weather reappeared just in time for my weekend visit in Luxembourg. As the pictures below reflect, the pleasant spring weather was just about ideal for my first ever visit to Luxembourg.
Continue Reading Frankfurt and Luxembourg

A German village along the Rhine, north of Düsseldorf

The D&O Diary was on assignment in Germany for meetings this past week, with four stops on a crowded itinerary. I have been to Germany during the winter months many times before and I have learned that the weather can be OK or it can be lousy. But nothing in my prior experience prepared me for the weather this past week, which, with the exception of one gloomy day, was really pretty spectacular, at least for this time of the year.
Continue Reading Four Cities in Germany

In the following guest post, Ulrike Binder, a corporate partner in Mayer Brown’s Frankfurt office, Jan Kraayvanger, a partner in Frankfurt office of Mayer Brown’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice, Burkhard Fassbach, Legal Counsel to Howden Germany, take a look at recent corporate governance and executive liability developments in Germany. A version of this article previously was published as a White Paper by Mayer Brown written in cooperation with Howden Germany. The original version also contains a chapter about D&O-Insurance in Germany authored by Marcel Armon, CEO Howden Germany, which can be found here. I would like to thank Ulrike, Jan, and Burkhard for allowing me to publish their article on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is the authors’ article.

Continue Reading Guest Post: Compliance-Hype in Germany

Hamburg: Jungfernsteig at dusk, viewed from Lombardsbrücke

The D&O Diary was on assignment this past week in Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city and Europe’s second-largest seaport. January may not be the best time to visit; at 53 degrees northern latitude, Hamburg is chilly and dark this time of the year. Fortunately for me, the weather was not nearly so unkind as had been forecast, and other than a few periods of rain, I most enjoyed chilly sunshine. My northern Germany visit included a brief stop in the Baltic port city of Lübeck.
Continue Reading Hamburg and Lübeck

The D&O Diary is on assignment in Europe this week, with the first stop in Berlin, for a series of business meetings. My schedule while in Berlin was full, but I did have some time both days during my two-day visit to the city for a look around.
Continue Reading A Berlin Diary