44 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2021 Last revised: 1 Apr 2021
Date Written: February 21, 2021
In this article, I develop the concept of "ownership piercing." I use the expression to suggest that courts engage in a process of evaluative reasoning to clarify who owns property rights and controls the limited liability company. I show under what circumstances courts should do that. Ownership piercing entails investigating the reality of the company's governance and tracing the real ownership profile of the company. It means defining who materially controls the company (i.e., managers or members?) and how "tamed" or, in other words, restricted the members' property rights are considering the consensual agreements the members and other stakeholders entered into. The idea that there may be situations in which courts should ownership pierce rests on the substance over form principle, which maintains that the economic substance of transactions rather than their legal form be disclosed.
Keywords: ownership piercing, limited liability companies, property rights, legal pleiotropy, operating agreement, contract governance
JEL Classification: K12, K22, L21, L22, L24, L25
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation