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Business Judgment Rule – Shielding the Corporate Director From Personal Liability and Considerations of Efficient and Financially Reasonable Resolutions

August 15, 2010 Professional Services Industry Legal Blog

When making business decisions on behalf of a corporation, it is presumed that corporate directors act in compliance with the above-referenced statute, by acting on an informed basis, in good faith and with ordinary care. This presumption is judicially created and is known as the business judgment rule. The business judgment rule is based on the premise that directors, for the most part, are more capable of making business decisions than are judges. Thus, where the rule is applicable, corporate directors will not be held liable for decisions made when conducting the business and affairs of a corporation.

Florida case law provides four elements which must be present for the business judgment rule to act as a shield to director liability: (a) the decision under review must be a business decision; (b) the director must not receive a personal benefit from the transaction ; (c) the director must exercise due care; and (d) the director must exercise good faith. F.D.I.C. v. Stahl, 854 F. Supp. 1565, 1570-1571 (S.D. Fla. 1994).

Therefore, the business judgment rule only protects directors only when they are carrying out their duties as directors, (e.g., making decisions and analyzing issues as directors). The business judgment rule is also inapplicable when the director furthers his self-interest. “A director is considered interested where he or she will receive a personal financial benefit from a transaction that is not equally shared by the stockholders, or will suffer a detrimental impact from the proposed transaction.” McCabe v. Foley, 424 F. Supp. 1315 (M.D. Fla. 2006).

Identifying and Negating Successful Defenses to Valid Personal Guarantees

July 27, 2010 Banking & Financial Services Industry Legal Blog, Professional Services Industry Legal Blog

A contract of guaranty is the promise to answer for the payment of some debt or the performance of some obligation by another, such that if the original debtor is unable to pay the debt or satisfy the contractual obligation, for whatever reason, the guarantor is himself liable on the default of the primary obligor. The guarantor’s knowledge of the execution or delivery of a guaranty is irrelevant, where the contract of guaranty speaks for itself and where the guarantor has not disclaimed knowledge of the guaranty. See Chris Craft Industries, Inc. v. Van Valkenberg, 267 So.2d 642 (Fla. 1972).

In a typical case, a President, CEO, or other officer signs a personal guaranty for the debts of his corporation and becomes personally liable for the debt upon the corporation’s default. Florida case law demonstrates that a simple, but well-drafted personal guaranty, which specifically enumerates the personal nature of the debt assurance, is adequate to form a legal and binding personal guaranty.

Reasonable and Effective Non-Compete Clauses from the Employer’s Perspective

July 14, 2010 Professional Services Industry Legal Blog

Specially trained employees are a valuable commodity in the business world, so keeping these skilled employees is of the utmost importance to employers. Many people have a skewed perspective of non-compete clauses as being manifestly unjust to the employee against whom it is being enforced. To address this sentiment, the Florida legislature has crafted, Fla. Stat. §542.335 in such a way that it ensures fairness to both the employee and the employer.

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