Tate – Business Judgment Rule Slides

The business judgment rule provides a director with a defense to personal liability, holding that as a general principle of law, a director, including a director who serves as a member of a board committee, who satisfies the business judgment rule has satisfied his or her duties, standard of care, or responsibilities. Thus, the business judgment rule provides one standard of care, although other standards may very well also apply to specific tasks and responsibilities, or in different circumstances. The business judgment rule provides a standard, and a good overall approach, for directors and audit committee members to follow, although the rule is somewhat lacking in specific detail. In some states the business judgment rule is codified by statute while in other states the rule is established by case law (see, i.e., Cal. Corp. Code §309 for California corporations, Del. Gen. Corp. Law §141 for Delaware corporations, in addition to relevant case law). The rule also applies to directors as board committee members. The business judgment rule also simply makes sense.

Also note that in California the business judgment rule is separately codified at Cal. Corp. Code §5231 for nonprofit public benefit corporations, and at Cal. Corp. Code §7231 for nonprofit mutual benefit corporations, and although those sections are in many respects similar to Cal. Corp. Code §309, the differences can be important.

Click on the following link for my Business Judgment Rule Slides (presented in pdf format): The Business Judgment Rule Slides. The slides are presented in two parts – the first part is focused on the business judgment rule from a mostly legal perspective (slides 1-14), whereas the second part is focused on a non-legal less formal perspective (slides 15-23).

Every case and situation is different. You do need to consult with an attorney and other professionals about your particular situation. This post is not a solicitation for legal or other services inside of or outside of California, and, of course, this post only is a summary of information that changes from time to time, and does not apply to any particular situation or to your specific situation. So . . . you cannot rely on this post for your situation or as legal or other professional advice or representation.

Thank you for reading this website. I ask that you also pass it along to other people who would be interested as it is through collaboration that great things and success occur more quickly.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq. (and inactive California CPA) – practicing in California only.

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New California Case Discussing Whether The Business Judgment Rule Defense Exists Where There Might Have Been A Breach Of A Duty That Was Required By Governance Document Provisions

I have linked below a pdf of a new California Appellate Court case (Palm Springs Villas II Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Erna Parth), discussing, under California law, whether the business judgment rule defense exists, at least for the purpose of a motion for summary judgment, when there is or might be evidence that the defendant director or officer did not satisfy duties required of her under the California statutory business judgment rule and entity governance document provisions. The decision is important for several reasons, at least including, that the decision, whether or not you agree with it, is well-written and contains good discussions about the requirements on a motion for summary judgment and other cases discussing the applicability of the California statutory business judgment rule and the related defense, and the decision should apply to both California corporate and nonprofit entities, and possibly also to California partnerships, unincorporated association entities, and religious entities.

In other words, if you are a California entity director or officer, you should read this decision, which will help to explain some of your duties and responsibilities, and that limitations might apply to your business judgment rule defense. And I should also say that it really should not come as a surprise that a California Appellate Court could hold that the business judgment rule defense might not apply in an appropriate factual situation where there might be evidence for example that a director or officer might not have sufficiently satisfied due diligence, investigation or authorization requirements prior to taking actions, even if there is no evidence of intentional wrongdoing or neglect.

Click on the following link for a pdf of the appellate decision in Palm Springs Villas II Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Parth, Palm Springs Villas v. Parth – discussing the business judgment rule defense in light of possible violations of governance documents – California law

You can also see similar discussions and issues in various cases out of Delaware and under the federal securities laws. Directors and officers really need to understand and satisfy the business judgment rule in addition to other duties, and understand and satisfy the applicable provisions that are in governance documents such as by-laws, charters and CC&Rs. You will find a further discussion about the business judgment rule in my detailed Tate’s Excellent Audit Committee Guide, updated January 2016, which you can view and print if you wish from the following blog post, at no cost and without having to provide any information about yourself – click on the following link for the post containing the link to the guide CLICK HERE

Best to you, Dave Tate, Esq., San Francisco Bay Area and throughout California

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