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2017-02-doc11 José María Cervelló Business Law Prize


The 11th José María Cervelló Business Law Prize aims to promote legal study and research, and to facilitate access to the LLM courses of IE Law School for people who do not have the necessary financial resources. The IE Law School (which used to be named Instituto de Empresa) and the law firm ONTIER recently announced this prize competion.

The subject of the essays opting for the 11th José María Cervelló Business Law Prize is: ‘Brexit: Legal consequences of the departure of the United Kingdom from the EU for businesses. Legal framework of the withdrawal and new Legal Framework, special reference to the problems of transitory law in respect of contracts, corporate operations and litigation’. The prize is considerable: € 30,000 divided as follows: € 10,000 will be given to the author of the winning essay, whilst € 20,000 will be assigned to the José María Cervelló Chair to be applied to its scholarship programme for the study of legal or tax courses at IE Law School. For further details, see

This is the first time I learned about this prize. I have known José Maria Cervelló (1947-2008) for quite some time. José Maria has been a member of the global board of the Ernst & Young Law Alliance (as it was called then), which I chaired (I have been a parter of Ernst & Young, now EY, from 1992-2005). We have known each other from the early 90s and worked together in this board from (I try to recall) 1997 – 2002.

In my seven person board, with lawyers from countries including the UK, Canada, France, Italy and Germany, José Maria was the most cooperative strategic and forward looking thinker, with a general understanding of the needs and the wishes of young lawyers working in an international environment. He also was a professor at the IE Law School and taught on internal E&Y international courses, to which it was as a great advantage that he was an attorney for the State. José Maria always had a keen eye for the challenges international lawyers face with regard to certain principles of law to be maintained.

Evidently, he was a strong supporter for the golden triangle of combined services in Tax-Accountancy-Law, which for many international clients (often boards of companies, not their legal departments) was rather evident. He also had a doctoral degree in arts and was a member of the association of friends of the Prado Museum. Being in charge, we also managed to organise our board meetings in Madrid and Amsterdam, arriving a day earlier.

As a friend of Prado, he had easy access to the museum, and he could show me a variety of paintings in the Prado (a special tour for me on ‘Dutch history and royalty’ reflected in ‘Spanish’ paintings, and paintings of Velazquez). In the Netherlands, I recall, I could guide him through the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, so we could discuss the remarkable resemblance of the linen collars the regents in Spain and Holland wore at that time. I understand that he has donated a large collection of historical books and paintings on art and architecture to the Prado, see

It was 2003 or 2004 when I spoke José Maria for the last time in Madrid on the possibility of giving lectures on cross-border restructuring and insolvency law. To our regret it could not be arranged. Looking back I think we were too early with the idea for lectures or a small course on that subject. I regard myself as privileged to have work with him and getting to know him.