US-Business Judgment Rule

In deutschen Aktiengesetz (§ 91 (1) ) ist  die Business Judgement Rule verankert: „Die Vorstandsmitglieder haben bei ihrer Geschäftsführung die Sorgfalt eines ordentlichen und gewissenhaften Geschäftsleiters anzuwenden. Eine Pflichtverletzung liegt nicht vor, wenn das Vorstandsmitglied bei einer unternehmerischen Entscheidung vernünftigerweise annehmen durfte, auf der Grundlage angemessener Information zum Wohle der Gesellschaft zu handeln.“

Diese Regel zur Vorstands(ent)haftung stammt dem Prinzip nach aus dem US-Recht. Zur Interpretation der deutschen Regel ist es daher ab und an hilfreich, neben deutschen Entscheidungen und Kommentaren auch US-Fallrecht zu konsultieren.Gimbel v. Signal Cos., 316 A.2d 599, 608 (Del. Ch. 1974):

„…“directors of a corporation . . . are clothed with [the] presumption, which the law accords to them, of being [motivated] in their conduct by a bona fide regard for the interests of the corporation whose affairs the stockholders have committed to their charge…“

Cede & Co. v. Technicolor, Inc., 634 A.2d 345, 361 (Del. 1993)

„…the burden of providing evidence that directors, in reaching their challenged decision, breached any one of the triads of their fiduciary duty—good faith, loyalty, or due care…“
In re The Walt Disney Co. Derivative Litigation, 906 A.2d 27 (Del. June 8, 2006)

„….plaintiff is not entitled to any remedy unless the transaction constitutes waste . . . [that is,] the exchange was so one-sided that no business person of ordinary, sound judgment could conclude that the corporation has received adequate consideration…“

Standard of Review. The following test was constructed in the opinion for Grobow v. Perot, 539 A.2d 180 (Del. 1988), as a guideline for satisfaction of the business judgment rule. Directors in a business should:

  • act in good faith;
  • act in the best interests of the corporation;
  • act on an informed basis;
  • not be wasteful;
  • not involve self-interest (duty of loyalty concept plays a role here).

Caremark International Inc. Derivative Litigation 698 A 2d 959 (Del. Ch. 1996)

„….. A director’s obligation includes a duty to attempt in good faith to assure that a corporate information and reporting system, which the board concludes is adequate, exists, and that failure to do so under some circumstances may, in theory at least, render a director liable for losses.“

Multi-factor test designed by the (Delaware)  Court to determine when this duty of care is breached.

  • The directors knew or should have known that violations of the law were occurring, and
  • The directors took no steps in a good faith effort to prevent or remedy the situation, and
  • Such failure proximately resulted in the losses complained of (though this last element may be thought to constitute an affirmative defense).


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