Protecting LLC Owners While Preserving LLC Flexibility
62 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2017 Last revised: 14 Aug 2019
Date Written: September 26, 2017
LLC statutes allow owners to restrict or completely waive standard governance protections required of other business forms. Corporate law mandatory stalwarts like fiduciary duties can be entirely eliminated in an LLC. This flexible approach has the potential to generate the most efficient governance relationships: tailored negotiation among LLC investors can produce an optimal set of governance terms that corporate law’s mandatory protections cannot. Yet when owners lack sophistication or bargaining power, contractual freedom allows for opportunistic terms that misprice capital, reduce investment, and inefficiently allocate capital across LLCs.
A series of cases involving opportunistic conduct have brought this problem to the fore. Recommendations for reform have focused on doing nothing, imposing mandatory protections, or relying on ad-hoc judicial interventions, but these solutions are each ultimately unsatisfying. I ultimately show how a model inspired by securities law’s accredited investor concept has the most promise to ensure LLCs’ continued viability as a distinct organizational form, with favorable liability and tax treatment to everyday investors and the freedom to craft unique governance relationships for sophisticated ones.
Keywords: LLC, Fiduciary Duties, Accredited Investor, Efficiency, Operating Agreement
JEL Classification: K12, K22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation