directors and officers liability

The risk of extreme weather events resulting from climate change and the collective global failure to address climate change represent the most significant current global risks, according to the World Economic Forum’s annual survey of global risks. These kinds of risks represent significant concerns for human safety, social and business disruption, and property loss. As discussed below, and as recent claims have shown, these risks may present management liability concerns as well. The World Economic Forum’s January 15, 2019 Global Risks Report can be found here.
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Alleged deficiencies in climate change-related disclosures have been a target of advocacy groups, shareholders, and regulators. The latest example of this phenomenon is the civil lawsuit the New York Attorney General filed on Wednesday against Exxon Mobil Corporation. The NYAG alleges that the company sought to “systematically and repeatedly deceive investors” about the future impacts climate change regulation could have on the company’s assets and value. The lawsuit underscores the fact that climate change disclosures are and will remain under scrutiny and that the claims alleging insufficient or deceptive climate change-related disclosures remain a significant area of corporate liability exposure. The October 24, 2018 complaint can be found here. The NYAG’s October 24, 2018 press release about the lawsuit can be found here.
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Paul Lockwood
Arthur Bookout

Among the most crucial issues in the world of directors and officers liability are the related questions of indemnification and advancement. Since so many companies are incorporated in Delaware, the laws of indemnification and advancement in Delaware are particularly important with respect to scope of protection available for directors and officers. In the following guest post, Paul Lockwood and Art Bookout of the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom law firm take a look at these issues, with a particular focus on limitations under Delaware law on indemnification and advancement rights. A version of this paper previously was published as an AIG White Paper. I would like to thank the authors and AIG for allowing me to publish this 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 Paul and Art’s article.
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The news headlines have been dominated in recent days by appalling revelations that leading politicians, entertainers, political candidates and others have engaged in sexual harassment, assault, and even worse behavior. As these stories have emerged, a dynamic has evolved in which the victims come forward with their stories and seek to hold the wrongdoers accountable for their misconduct. Now, a blockbuster settlement entered on Monday suggests that this dynamic may not be limited just to attempting to hold individuals to account but may also involve efforts to hold the wrongdoers’ companies’ executives accountable for allowing the misconduct or for turning a blind eye.

In what is one of the largest shareholder derivative settlements ever, senior officials of 21st Century Fox have agreed to a $90 million settlement (to be funded by insurance) of allegations the company’s management permitted a culture of sexual and racial harassment to permeate the company, ultimately resulting in financial and reputational harm to the company. The settlement includes provisions for interesting governance and compliance enhancements, including the creation of a Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council. As discussed below, the procedural circumstances of the settlement are interesting as well, as the settlement arises out of a lawsuit that had been threatened but not filed until the same day as the settlement agreement was submitted to the court.
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deliveryagentWhen private companies are on track toward a planned IPO, much of the focus and attention is on readying the company for the burdens and responsibilities it will face as a public company. Among other things, this also means a focus on the potential liability exposures for the company and its directors and offices once the company goes public. Until the company actually completes its planned offering, however, it is still a private company — albeit one with a heightened set of risk exposures because of the company’s pre-IPO activities. If the planned IPO never happens, the company and its senior officials sometimes face liability claims arising from pre-IPO activities. A recent complaint filed in the Northern District of California against the former directors and officers of a pre-IPO company that ultimately went bankrupt illustrates the kind of claims pre-IPO companies and their executives can face. Pre-IPO companies’ liability exposures have important implications for the companies’ D&O insurance programs, as discussed below.
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deskbookThose of us involved in the world of D&O liability insurance are well aware that the coverage issues often are technical and the relevant legal principles can change quickly as a result of evolving case law. It would be valuable for  practitioners in this area to have access to a reliable resource where the key principles are described and where the key case law authority can quickly be located. Fortunately, there is such a resource. It is the “Directors & Officers Liability Deskbook” (about which refer here), an American Bar Association publication written and edited by attorneys from the Sedgwick law firm. The book’s recently published Fourth Edition is a timely update. Every D&O liability insurance practitioner and indeed anyone looking for a quick and ready resource on D&O liability insurance coverage issuers will welcome this updated edition.
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Richa Shukla
Nilam Sharma
Joel Pridmore
Joel Pridmore

As readers of this blog know well, liability claims against corporate directors and officers is an increasingly global phenomenon. A number of different factors are contributing to the globalization of D&O liability, including legislative changes, changes in regulatory enforcement activity, and the rise of litigation financing. In the following guest post, Richa Shukla of Khaitan Legal Associates, Nilam Sharma of Nilam Sharma Ltd., and Joel Pridmore from Munich Re, Australia, examine the changing environment for D&O liability in India. I would like to thank Richa, Nilam, and Joel for allowing me to publish their article on this site. 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 Richa, Nilam, and Joel’s guest post.
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tenWhile the world of directors’ and officers’ liability is always dynamic, the D&O liability arena was particularly eventful during 2016, with significant implications for what may lie ahead in 2017 – and possibly for years to come.  With full awareness that a complete inventory of key 2016 events could actually be much longer, here is a list of the Top Ten D&O stories of 2016.
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dandowhattoknowAfter attending the PLUS D&O Symposium  some years ago, several colleagues at Partner Re thought it might be worthwhile to provide D&O insurance professionals with historical overview of the evolution of Directors and Officers insurance (D&O) in the US marketplace.   As a result, Brian Sabia, SVP Senior Underwriter Specialty lines; Catherine Rudow, SVP Senior Underwriter Specialty Lines; and Nicholas DeMartini, AVP Senior Underwriter Specialty Lines, all of Partner Reinsurance Company, drafted the following article, which starts with the Securities Act of 1933 and progresses through the relevant Acts, key court rulings, and the ups and downs that have driven the D&O insurance market and the evolving features of the D&O insurance policy. Their complete paper can be found here.

I would like to thank Brian, Catherine and Nicholas for their willingness to publish their article on this site. 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 authors’ guest post.

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This paper provides an historical overview of the evolution of Directors and Officers insurance (D&O) in the U.S. market since 1933, taking you through the relevant acts, key court rulings, ups and downs of the market, as well as the evolving coverage features of D&O insurance. This paper is intended for the insurance professional as an additional introduction to this increasingly relevant and ever evolving management liability product. 
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