Delaware Supreme Court denies standing to directors to bring derivative action

A recent Delaware Supreme Court decision rules that directors who are not otherwise shareholders of a corporation do not have standing to bring a derivative claim on behalf of the corporation.

The case involved claims by the plaintiff director that the other directors of the corporation were controlled by a single shareholder, who was also the corporation’s CEO and Chairman. The Court held that such standing was not expressly provided by the Delaware statute, and refused to judicially extend such standing pursuant to equitable doctrine.

The decision discusses commentary from the ALI (American Law Institute) specifically recommends that such standing be extended to directors. The Court refuses to adopt this standard in Delaware, while noting that the ALI proposal has only been adopted in one state, Pennsylvania. The Court also referenced the New York corporate statute as being unique in providing directors with a statutory right to sue other directors of the corporation. (I guess that’s another reason not to incorporate in New York, if you need one).

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