One of the hotly contested issues in recent years has been whether or not there is D&O insurance coverage for shareholder appraisal actions. In a recent decision that was largely focused on choice of law issues, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of a policyholder’s action to try to obtain coverage for defense costs incurred in an underlying shareholder appraisal action. Though the insurers prevailed in this coverage dispute, the Court’s holding on the choice of law issues could have ominous implications for insurers’ prospects in future coverage disputes, as discussed below. The Delaware Supreme Court’s January 10, 2023, opinion in the Stillwater Mining Company coverage dispute can be found here.
One feature of the U.S. corporate law environment that always strikes outside observers and new initiates as odd is the predominance on the legal landscape of the law of Delaware. The tiny Eastern seaboard state is the second smallest U.S. state by size; only five states are smaller by population, yet its corporate laws outweigh those of any other state. Over half of the U.S. listed companies are incorporated in Delaware. Nearly two thirds of Fortune 500 companies are organized under the laws of Delaware.
Questions about Delaware’s outsized role in the corporate legal world are nothing new. But when the Wall Street Journal runs a front page article questioning Delaware’s role, it might be time to start wondering of Delaware’s predominance might actually be under challenge.
Continue Reading So Why Should Delaware Corporate Law Predominate?