Director and officer liability

dojIn a September 9, 2015 memo from Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, the U.S. Department of Justice described a new policy focused on individual accountability for corporate wrongdoing. The keystone of the policy embodied in the Yates memo is that for companies to receive any cooperation credit, they must completely disclosure “all relevant facts about individual misconduct.”  According to an interesting May 26, 2016 memo from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform entitled “DOJ’s New Threshold for Cooperation” (here), the agency’s new threshold for cooperation credit is “likely to have a number of unintended consequences.” Among other things, the report notes, the new policy risks alienating personnel whose cooperation is essential to the investigation, and indeed may motivate individuals to seek individual counsel. These and other potential unintended consequences may mean that the agency’s new policy may have a counterproductive impact on corporate cooperation.
Continue Reading Will the Yates Memo’s Emphasis on Individual Prosecution Have A Counterproductive Impact?

stanfordsealIn the world of corporate governance, there are a number of common presumptions about board structure and practices. However, according to a recent paper, many of these presumptions may in fact represent corporate governance “myths.” In their September 30, 2015 paper entitled “Seven Myths of Boards of Directors” (here) Stanford Business School Professor David Larcker and Resercher Brian Tayan examine several “commonly accepted beliefs about boards of directors that are not substantiated by empirical evidence.”
Continue Reading The “Myth” of Outside Director Liability and the Critical Importance of D&O Insurance

doj1The U.S. Department of Justice released a directive last week restating and reinforcing the agency’s commitment to targeting corporate executives in cases of corporate wrongdoing. The cornerstone of the agency’s new policies is the specification that in order for a company to qualify for any cooperation credit in connection with a DoJ investigation, the company must provide the agency with all relevant facts about the individuals involved in the misconduct. As discussed below, the agency’s new directive could pose added challenges for companies involved in DoJ investigations, and it could represent a significant new threat to the executives of the companies involved. As also discussed below, the directive raises some important D&O insurance issues as well.
Continue Reading Thinking About the Justice Department’s New Policy Directive Targeting Corporate Executives

del1In a detailed May 4, 2015 opinion (here), Vice Chancellor Travis Laster of the Delaware Chancery Court extensively reviewed the rights of an insolvent company’s creditors to pursue derivative claims against the company’s directors. As Francis Pileggi put it in a May 6, 2015 post on his Delaware Corporate and Commercial Litigation blog

scrutiny2Federal banking regulators have stepped up their interactions with and scrutiny of bank directors, according a recent Wall Street Journal article. The March 31, 2015 article, entitled “Regulators Intensify Scrutiny of Bank Boards” (here) details the ways in which regulators are “zeroing in on Wall Street boardrooms as part of the government’s intensified

paA question that frequently recurs when I am speaking to directors and officers of non-profit organizations is why – given that their firms have no shareholders – they need to bother with D&O insurance. The reality is that even though officials at non-profit firms don’t have to worry about the possibility of shareholder claims, non-profit

wywoI have no idea where summer went, but with the passage of Labor Day weekend there’s no denying that summer is over and that it is time to get back to work. For those of you who were fortunate enough to take some time off this summer or who maybe just found it a little

frontierAmong the developments dominating the business headlines in recent weeks have been two unrelated stories – the rising wave of so-called “inversion” transactions in which U.S. companies acquire foreign firms to avoid U.S. tax laws and the revelation of previously undisclosed problems with the ignition switches in certain GM cars that allegedly resulted in numerous

Ga Supreme CourtA recurring issue in FDIC litigation against the former directors and officers of failed banks has been whether the business judgment rule insulates the defendants  from claims of ordinary negligence. This question has been particularly important in Georgia, where there were more bank failures than any in other state and consequently more failed bank litigation.