Completed PhD projects
Value Pluralism in Financial Regulation (PhD researcher: mr. J. Broekhuizen; supervisors: prof.dr. P.C. Westerman and prof.dr. O.O. Cherednychenko)
This PhD project explores financial regulation and its interaction with private law from a philosophical perspective. It focuses on the conceptually interrelated ideas of care, autonomy and trust and their transformations in the financial regulatory regime. The aim is to discuss these transformations in a regulatory setting as well as to consider their relevance for private law and its place in a transnational regulatory regime. The research method adopted in this interdisciplinary project is an empirically informed philosophical reflection on the phenomenon of regulation, particularly retail financial regulation. The project engages in a normative exploration and critique of this regulation. The PhD research has led to a doctoral thesis by Broekhuizen J. (2022), Values in Financial Regulation: A Philosophical Perspective on a Regulatory Regime. (University of Groningen), forthcoming.
The Creditworthiness Assessment in Consumer and Mortgage Credit Lending (in Dutch) (PhD researcher: mr. J.M. Meindertsma; supervisors: prof.dr. O.O. Cherednychenko and prof.dr. M.H. Wissink; co-supervisor: prof.dr. O. Couwenberg)
Credit is an important element in allowing consumers to finance their purchases in the EU. Yet the wide availability and use of consumer credit are not without risk. This interdisciplinary research project focused on the creditworthiness assessment in consumer and mortgage credit lending under Dutch law. To analyse the creditor’s duty to assess the consumer’s creditworthiness, a conceptual framework has been developed, focussing on the key points that regulators must address when designing such a test. Within this framework, relevant Dutch law has been analysed. It has been shown that the consumer’s creditworthiness under Dutch law primarily depends on his disposable income. As a rule, if the consumer does not have sufficient income, the credit application must be rejected. The study has further explored whether there is room for improvement, taking into account the law of the European Union, English law and the literature in the field of Law and Economics. It has become clear that Dutch law governing the creditworthiness assessment complies with EU law, and that overall, a fair balance has been struck between consumer protection against overindebtedness and access to credit. At the same time, several recommendations for improvement have been made in relation to both public and private law. The recommendations for the financial supervisory framework focus on the specific elements of the creditworthiness assessment that may lead to insufficient consumer protection against overindebtedness or obstacles in consumer access to credit. The recommendations with respect to the law of obligations concern the use of public law lending standards in private adjudication and the room for the consumer’s responsibility in this context. The PhD research project has led to a doctoral thesis by Meindertsma J.M. (2020), De kredietwaardigheidstoets bij kredietverlening aan consumenten. Recht en Praktijk Financieel Recht, vol. 19, Kluwer.
EU Investor Protection Regulation and Private Law (PhD researcher: mr. M.W. Wallinga; supervisors: prof.dr. O.O. Cherednychenko and prof.dr. M.H. Wissink)
The recent financial crisis has highlighted the importance of a high level of investor protection. To this end, the EU Markets in Financial Instruments Directive I (MiFID I) and its successor MiFID II contain extensive conduct of business rules which should be observed by investment firms and credit institutions when providing investment services across the EU. Being based on a public supervision and enforcement model, however, both directives do not address the consequences of the violation of the conduct of business rules in the private law relationship between the investment service provider and its client. What private law remedies, however, does an individual client have against the breaches of the conduct of business rules by the provider? To answer this question, the comparative analysis of the national laws of Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK has been conducted, with a particular focus on civil liability. The PhD research project has led to a doctoral thesis by Wallinga M. (2020), EU Investor Protection Regulation and Liability for Investment Losses: A Comparative Analysis of the Interplay between MiFID & MiFID II and Private Law. Studies in European Economic Law and Regulation, vol. 20, Springer Verlag.
Protecting Consumers of Investment Products in the EU through Information Disclosure: Hit or Miss? (PhD researcher: mr. C.E. de Jager; supervisors: prof.dr. A.J. Verheij and prof.dr. W.H. van Boom; co-supervisor: dr. A. Sarampalis)
Consumer investment products have become essential to the daily life of EU citizens. Yet such products have been systematically mis-sold to consumers across the EU. The ‘woekerpolis’ scandal in the Netherlands is just one example. To prevent such mis-selling in the future the current EU and national regulation heavily rely on information disclosure by financial institutions. Such information is supposed to empower consumers to achieve their investment objectives. Is information disclosure regulation, however, fit for its purpose in the light of empirical studies of consumer behaviour? This interdisciplinary – legal, legal-comparative and empirical – PhD research project (financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) based on the application by prof.dr. O.O. Cherednychenko) seeks to answer this question. The results of the project are presented in a doctoral thesis by C.E. de Jager, Consumentenbescherming door informatie? Een analyse van 30 jaar beleid voor korte precontractuele informatiedocumenten over complexe financiële producten in Europa, Engeland, Nederland en Duitsland (Den Haag: Boom Juridische uitgever, 2018). The thesis is available here.
Economic Consequences of Personality, Knowledge, and Intellectual Virtues (PhD researcher: mr. M. Meyer; supervisors: prof.dr. B.P. de Bruin and prof.dr. C.L.M. Hermes; co-supervisor: dr. M.M. Kramer)
The overarching research question of this PhD thesis is whether and to what extent individual characteristics affect economic decision making. In particular, the thesis has investigated the relationship between mortgage literacy and mortgage risks with a newly designed Mortgage Literacy Questionnaire, using Dutch household data. The Mortgage Literacy Questionnaire evaluates the domain-specific knowledge of households about mortgages, including the legal and fiscal implications of different types of mortgages. This study has found that mortgage literacy is associated with lower perceived mortgage risk, and with how well households hedge mortgage risk. Furthermore, the thesis has also developed and validated the Intellectual Virtue Scale (a new measure of intellectual virtues) and studied the relationship between this scale, financial knowledge, and diligent financial decision making. Intellectual virtues are acquired character traits that support gaining knowledge and understanding. The study has developed a 20-item scale, measuring five intellectual virtues with four items each: love of knowledge, openness in gathering information, conscientiousness in processing information, humility in belief formation, and intellectual courage. It has found that intellectually virtuous people are more financially literate, display greater self-awareness about their financial knowledge, and are more likely to compare financial advisors. The thesis is available here.
Ongoing PhD projects
Towards an Appropriate Regulatory Regime for Lending-Based Crowdfunding (PhD researcher: mr. M.E. Buit; supervisors: prof.dr. O.O. Cherednychenko and prof.dr. M.H. Wissink)
Lending-based (LB-)crowdfunding has become an important alternative financing source to provide consumers and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with loans. Yet, it is unclear how LB-crowdfunding should be regulated. In the absence of a European harmonized regulatory framework for (LB-)crowdfunding, Member States have developed their own legal regimes that differ substantially from one another. However, many questions still exist concerning the right balance between protecting consumers and SMEs and enabling further innovation of crowdfunding. This interdisciplinary PhD research project aims to examine existing rules and practices and provide recommendations for the development of an appropriate regulatory regime for LB-crowdfunding.
The growing digitalisation of the marketplace is changing financial consumer services. New market players (FinTechs) are using social media, digital tools and online platforms to provide (new) products and services across borders. This development presents new challenges in relation to data protection, cybersecurity and financial consumer protection more generally. This PhD research project aims to study whether the current legal framework for retail financial services in the EU and in the Netherlands is well-equipped to address these challenges and how it can be improved. The project is also embedded within the CyberSecurity Noord-Nederland Project led by the University of Groningen and supported by Provincie Groningen.
Integration of Sustainability into European Financial Regulation: Implications for the Legal Relationship between Financial Services Providers and Retail Investors (PhD researcher: mr. A. van Caenegem (KU Leuven); supervisors: prof.dr. V. Colaert (KU Leuven), prof.dr. D. Busch (Radboud University), prof.dr. O.O. Cherednychenko and prof.dr. I. Chiu (University College London)
The ambition to increase sustainable finance has never been more prominent in the European Commission’s policy than with the adoption of the eighth Climate Action Plan in 2018 and the EU Green Deal in 2019. This has resulted in an influx of financial regulation which seeks to ensure retail investor access to sustainable investments, enabling more private capital to flow to economic activities that are in line with the EU's climate objective of becoming the first carbon neutral continent by 2050. This research project explores the relationship between sustainable finance and investor protection and examines whether the emerging legal framework is coherent, effective and efficient.
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