Tilman Imm has written a thesis on the mechanism of equivalence in Financial and Capital Markets Law (Der finanz- und kapitalmarktrechtliche Gleichwertigkeitsmechanismus – Zur Methode der Substitution in Theorie und Praxis).
The author has kindly provided the following summary:
The concept of equivalence or substituted compliance is of considerable importance in today’s financial and capital market law. This is a regulatory mechanism which, roughly speaking, works as follows: A rule provides for favourable legal consequences – such as the registration of a company for the provision of investment services – in the event that its object of regulation is already achieved in an equivalent manner by the regulations of another standard-setting body. Numerous implementations of this mechanism are to be found in the European Union’s regulations on third countries, which have recently gained considerable relevance against the backdrop of Brexit. So far, however, there has been a lack of clarity in practice and science about various aspects of equivalence.
This dissertation shows that the widespread equivalence rules are cases of legally provided substitution and demonstrates the practical consequences of this finding. For this purpose, first of all, the current state of knowledge in private international law regarding the instrument of substitution is examined. This includes the term, object and autonomy of substitution as well as its preconditions in order to define a conceptual understanding for the further course of the analysis. Especially the substitution requirement of equivalence is analysed more closely, which entails an examination of the criterion of functional equivalence and the occasional criticism of the requirement of equivalence.
The second part of the thesis turns to the equivalence mechanism in financial and capital market law. At the beginning, the so-called third country regime of European financial and capital market law is presented in an overview to illustrate to what extent and under which conditions third country companies can become active in this area of the internal market. This is followed by an analysis of the equivalence mechanism, which includes not only the history and functions of this regulatory technique, but also the determination of equivalence by the European Commission or national authorities. In this context, the main thesis of the treatise, namely that equivalence rules are cases of legally provided substitution, is reviewed and the widespread criticism of the mechanism is presented and acknowledged.
Finally, the third part of the dissertation features the exemption options for third-country companies within the framework of the German Securities Trading Act (Wertpapierhandelsgesetz – WpHG) to show how the equivalence mechanism works in practice and to what extent its potential can be limited by regulatory deficits, starting with an analysis of the equivalence of US law in terms of Section 46 WpHG. This is followed by an examination of Section 91 WpHG, which has recently been added to the WpHG, and includes a critical examination of the status quo with regard to the equivalence requirement of this provision.