Shareholder Litigation, Corporate Law, Corporate Valuation Litigation, Judicial Discretion, Appraisal Remedy, Judicial Appraisal, Exit Theory
For many years, we and other commentators have observed the problem with allowing judges wide discretion to fashion appraisal awards to dissenting shareholders based on widely divergent, expert valuation evidence submitted by the litigating parties. The results of this discretionary approach to valuation have been to make appraisal litigation less predictable and therefore more costly and likely. While this has been beneficial to professionals who profit from corporate valuation litigation, it has been harmful to shareholders, making deals costlier and less likely to be completed.
In this Article, we propose to end the problem of discretionary judicial valuation by tracing the origins of the appraisal remedy and demonstrating that its true purpose has always been to protect the exit rights of minority shareholders when a cash exit is otherwise unavailable, and not to judge the value of the deal. Judicial appraisal should not be a remedy for dissenting shareholders when a market exit or equivalent protection is otherwise available.
While such reform would be costly to valuation litigation professionals, their loss would be more than offset by the benefit of such reforms to shareholders involved in future corporate transactions. Shareholders presently have adequate protections, both from private arrangements and legal doctrines involving fiduciary duties.
William J. Carney & Keith Sharfman, The Exit Theory of Judicial Appraisal, 28 Fordham J. Corp. & Fin. L. 1 (2023).