Why Manager Liability Fails at Controlling Systemic Risk

35 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2014

See all articles by Andreas Engert

Andreas Engert

Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Date Written: July 2, 2014


Should bank managers be liable for taking excessive risks? The paper cautions that manager liability has very little promise as a safeguard for financial stability. In support of this claim, a twofold argument is made: First, neither prudential regulation nor the general duty of care provide specific and predictable limits of permissible risk taking. As a consequence, managers face considerable uncertainty on the applicable standard of care and hence on how they can avoid liability. Second, exposing managers to uncertain liability is inconsistent with their role as agents (corporate organs). Banks will respond by adjusting performance pay and other incentives to offset the risk-dampening effect of liability. The resulting incentive scheme for managers will be more costly and less effective in controlling systemic risk.

Keywords: Manager liability, directors liability, officers liability, financial crisis, systemic risk, systemic stability, standard of care, legal uncertainty

JEL Classification: G21, G28, K22

Suggested Citation

Engert, Andreas, Why Manager Liability Fails at Controlling Systemic Risk (July 2, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2461692 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2461692

Andreas Engert (Contact Author)

Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Law ( email )

Boltzmannstr. 3
Berlin, 14195

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels

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