The Business Judgment Rule Under Attack

The business judgment rule (BJR) has served for decades as the single most important protection against personal liability for directors and officers.  First developed by courts over a century ago, this common law defense prevents courts from second-guessing the quality of a business decision by directors and officers. 

The two primary underpinnings of the BJR are:

1.Courts should not substitute their inexperienced business decisions for the good-faith decisions of independent and diligent business executives, who have a far greater ability to make appropriate business decisions based on their extensive commercial knowledge, experience and training.

2.Executives should be encouraged to take prudent risks for the benefit of the company and its constituents, and should not be stymied by the fear of personal liability if a decision ultimately harms the company.

The BJR generally applies to business decisions made by disinterested and reasonably informed directors and officers who honestly and rationally believe their decision was in the best interest of the company.  If the BJR applies, directors and officers should not be liable for the quality or results of their decisions, but only the process used to make the decision.

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