Shareholder (and Director) Fiduciary Duties and Shareholder Activism


Recent attention to shareholder activism in the business and academic press has ignored the legal ramifications of that phenomenon. Under current law, shareholders are neither principals nor agents of the corporation, the board of directors, or the other shareholders; those seeking to increase shareholder power must confront this legal reality. Specifically, proposals for increased shareholder power on the one hand and recent investor attempts to gain actual management control on the other must both be considered in light of the shareholders’ lack of fiduciary responsibility. Moreover, all directors, including those representing “activist” shareholders, are obligated to exercise independent judgment about the best interests of the corporation and may not delegate their decision-making duty either to an individual activist shareholder or to an electoral majority of shareholders.


Agency | Business Organizations Law

Date of this Version

September 2006