Business Judgment Rule - Explained
Protection of Corporate Officers and Directors
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What is the business judgment rule?
The business judgment rule is a principle that applies to officers and directors acting within the scope of their positions. Directors of a corporation have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of their stockholders. This includes exercising due care and having a business justification for their decisions and actions. The duty of care requires officers and directors to be informed and avoid acting negligently in the execution of their responsibilities.
The business judgment rule takes steps to further protect directors from liability for their decisions or actions if they acted in good faith. Basically, it raises the standard of care for holding a director liable for actions or decisions that cause a loss to the corporation. A director that takes an action or makes a decision that is negligent or reckless may be shielded from liability if they acted in good faith. Acting in good faith simply means that the officer or director genuinely believed that her decision was appropriate and in the interest of the corporation.
The major limitation on the protections of the business judgment rule is when the officer or director either acts to intentionally harm the corporation or breaches her duty of loyalty.
Example: I am a director of ABC Corp. I sell authorize the sale of corporate assets to members of my family at a very low price. This could be considered a self-dealing transaction. The business judgment rule will not protect me from liability for my actions if those actions are challenged by shareholders for causing a loss to the corporation.
Next Article: Director and Officer Liability Insurance Back to: Corporate Governance
How do you feel about the additional protections of the business judgment rule for directors? Should directors be protected from liability when making negligent or reckless decisions? Why or why not? Why do you think the law exempts director actions or decisions that breach the duty of loyalty from protection? Practice Question: Francis is director of ABC Corp. He, along with other directors, makes the decision to invest significant corporate assets in short-term construction loans. The loans are very high risk but yield high annual returns. Several of Francis family members own a substantial interest in many of the construction companies benefiting from the loans. If several of the loans default and cause a loss to ABC Corp, will the business judgment rule protect Francis from personal liability? Why or why not?
- Corporate Governance Law (Intro)
- What is Business Governance?
- Berle-Means Thesis
- Corporate Governance Rating Definition
- Who are the members of a corporation?
- Corporate Charter
- Shareholder Register
- Common Stock
- Preferred Stock
- Par Value
- Authorized Shares
- Issued Shares of Stock
- Unissued Shares of Stock
- Outstanding Shares
- Institutional Shares
- Dual Class Shares
- What is a closely-held corporation?
- Close Corporation Plan Definition
- What is a Private Company vs a Public Company?
- What is the role and purpose of the corporation?
- What is the Agency theory of corporate governance?
- Shareholder-Centric Perspective
- Shareholder Value
What is the Stakeholder theory of corporate governance?
What is the role & rights of Shareholders in the corporation?
- Shareholder Democracy Definition
- Quorum Definition
- Information Circular
- Straight and Cumulative Voting
- Cumulative Voting
- Plurality Voting
- Class Voting Shareholders
- Changing the Voting Rules
- Supermajority (Voting)
- Shareholder Sponsored Proposal
- What are the variations on attributes of Ownership structure?
- Stock Split
- What are the fiduciary duties owed by shareholders?
- When is a shareholder personally liable for corporate obligations?
- Appraisal Rights
- Dissenter's Rights
- Say on Pay Rights
- How can shareholder enforce their rights (direct and derivative actions)?
- What is the process for bringing a Derivative action?
- What are corporate vote Proxies?
- Proxy Statement
- Proxy Fight or Contest Definition & Explanation
- What is Shareholder Activism and the significance of Institutional Investors?
- Activist Investor
- Overview of Board of Directors
- Board Decision Making
- Advisory Board (Observer Directors)
- What is the role of the Board of Directors?
- Board of Trustees
- Board of Governors
- What is the composition of the board of directors?
- Chairman of the Board
- CEO as Chairman of the Board
- Outside Director
- Outside Director or Non-Executive Director Definition
- Independent Outside Director
- Budget Committee
- Audit Committee
- Compensation Committee
- Nomination Committee (Corporate Board)
- What standards govern the actions of the board of directors?
- Duty of Candor Definition
- Duty of Care (Board of Directors)
- Duty of Loyalty (Directors)
- Board Evaluation Definition
- What is the Business Judgment Rule?
- What is D&O insurance?
- Codetermination (Foreign)
- What is the role of Managers of the corporation?
- What standards govern manager actions?
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- Chief Financial Officer
- Chief Information Officer (CIO)
- Chief Investment Officer (CIO)
- Chief Legal Officer
- Chief Operating Officer
- Chief Risk Officer
- Chief Security Officer
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
- What are the primary state and federal corporate governance laws?
- What is the role of the state in corporate governance?
- What is the role of Securities Laws in corporate governance?
- What is the role of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in corporate governance?
- What is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) effect on corporate governance?
- Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
- What is the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act effect on corporate governance?
- Corporate Monitors
- What industry organization standards affect corporate governance?
- How do proxy advisory firms affect corporate governance?
- What is the role of ethics in corporate governance?
- What are the major causes of corporate governance issues?
- What are the access to information issues?
- What are decision-making structure issues?
- What are the power struggle or competition issues?
- Holding Company
- What are hostile takeovers and defenses to hostile takeovers?
- Williams Act
- Staggered Board
- Shark Repellent Defenses?
- Poison Pill Defenses?
- Flip Over Poison Pill Definition
Flip In Poison Pill Definition
- Voting Poison Pill Plan
- Delay-Tactic Defenses?
- Legal Lockup Defenses?
- White Knight and Pac Man Defenses?
- Jonestown Defense
- Lady Macbeth Strategy
- Macaroni Defense
- Yellow Knight
- Back-end Plan Definition
- Backflip Takeover Definition
- Dead Hand Provision Definition
- Kamikaze Defense
- Operating Company Property Company Model
- Scorched Earth Policy Definition
- Revlon Rule
- What are benefit-alignment issues?
- Cadbury Rules Definition