One of the basic exposures that corporate directors and officers face is the risk of a shareholder derivative lawsuit. In the following guest post, Greg Markel, Giovanna Ferrari, and Sarah Fedner, all of the Seyfarth Shaw law firm, take a look at the basic features of shareholder derivative suits and conclude with ten basic takeaways for boards and others. I would like to thank the authors 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 site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is the authors’ article.Continue Reading Guest Post: Derivative Litigation: Board Lessons and Takeaways
As I have noted in recent posts on this site, the developing trend toward anti-ESG litigation has targeted, among other corporate initiatives, company adoption of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs. These and other developments have encouraged some companies to soft-pedal their initiatives in this and other areas, a phenomenon that has been described as “greenhushing.” But as noted in a recent memo from attorneys at the Wachtel Lipton law firm, while scrutiny for DEI initiatives may continue, companies and their boards properly may pursue DEI strategies as part of their companies’ overall missions. The August 19, 2023, memo in the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance can be found here.Continue Reading DEI Initiatives Face Increased Scrutiny
As I have noted in prior posts, conflicting political views about ESG-related issues have put corporate executives in the crosshairs, a dilemma that has caused some companies to try to avoid ESG issues altogether – a phenomenon that has been described as “greenhushing.” Among other concerns troubling corporate officials about the entire ESG debate is that some politicians have publicly raised the possibility that the act of taking ESG considerations into account in decision-making could itself constitute a breach of fiduciary duty.Continue Reading Disney, Fiduciary Duties, Business Judgment, and Corporate ESG-Related Actions
ESG has for some time now been a hot button issue for companies. More recently, an anti-ESG backlash has emerged, further complicating the ESG environment for companies and sometimes putting them in a “damned-if-you-do-and damned-if-you-don’t” dilemma. How are companies to navigate these complicated conditions? In a May 23, 2023 post on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance entitled “Navigating the Current ESG Landscape: Recommendations for the Board and Management” (here), veteran and respected corporate attorney Martin Lipton of the Wachtell, Lipton law firm provides guidance for companies as they navigate these difficult circumstances and describes the principles companies should follow in trying to make their way on these issues.Continue Reading Navigating the Challenging ESG Landscape
In the following guest post, Francis Kean, Executive Director FINEX Willis Towers Watson, reviews some interesting recent historical academic research on directors’ duties and the business judgment rule in the U.K. A version of this article previously was published on the Willis Towers Watson Wire blog (here). I would like to thank Francis for allowing me to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to thig blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Francis’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: The Truth about Directors’ Duties in the UK and the Business Judgment Rule
The business judgment rule is one of the important principles involved when questions of board and director liability are raised. In the following guest post, Bernard Sharfman, an associate fellow of the R Street Institute and a member of the Journal of Corporation Law’s editorial advisory board, takes a look at the way that the business judgment rule is often presented and understood. Bernie’s guest post is a summary of his longer academic paper on the same topic, which can be found here. This post previously appeared on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation. I would like to thank Bernie for his willingness to allow me to publish his article on this site. 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 publish a guest post. Here is Bernie’s guest post.
Continue Reading Guest Post: The Importance of the Business Judgment Rule
As readers will recall, last week I published a post about the split verdict a Northern District of Georgia jury entered in the civil lawsuit the FDIC had filed against certain former directors of the failed Buckhead Community Bank. The verdict arose in one of the rare failed bank cases to actually go all the way to trial. In the following guest post, Robert Long Tod Sawicki, Elizabeth Gingold Clark and Lauren Tapson Macon of the Alston & Bird law firm discuss the Buckhead Community Bank lawsuit trial and verdict. Alston & Bird represents the defendants in the case. I would like to thank Robert and his colleagues for their willingness to allow me to publish their article as a guest post. 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 Alston & Bird attorneys’ guest post.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Jury Applies Georgia’s Business Judgment Rule
On August 18, 2015, in an interesting opinion that takes a close look at exculpatory bylaw issues and the business judgment rule under North Carolina law, the Fourth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s dismissal of the failed bank lawsuit the FDIC had filed against former directors and officers of Cooperative Bank of Wilmington, N.C. The appellate court affirmed the dismissal of all of the claims against the director defendants but reversed the lower court’s ruling as to the negligence and breach of fiduciary duty claims against the officer defendants.
Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of All Claims Against Failed Bank’s Directors, Revives Negligence Claims Against Bank’s Officers
Under time-honored standards, and as developed over time by Delaware’s court, the business judgment rule is, as is often stated, a “presumption that in making a business decision, the directors of a company have acted on an informed basis, in good faith, and in the honest belief that the action taken was in the best interests of the corporation.” However, as discussed in an interesting paper, in more recent times, courts have had to consider these principles in more troubling contexts, such as takeover battles or controlling shareholder transactions. As a result the courts have developed what BYU Law Professor D. Gordon Smith in his August 6, 2015 post on the CLS Blue Sky Blog (here) calls “the Modern Business Judgment Rule.” A longer version of Professor Smith’s paper can be found here.
Continue Reading A Look at the Modern Business Judgement Rule
Along with the separate derivative lawsuit filed against Target Corporation’s board, the cyber breach-related derivate action filed against Wyndham Worldwide Corporation’s board has been closely watched as representative of a potential new area liability exposure for corporate directors and officers. However, in an October 20, 2014 opinion, District of New Jersey Judge Stanley Chesler,…