Outside Directors and Lawsuits: What are the Real Risks?
Brian R. Cheffins
University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
Bernard S. Black
Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law; Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
Stanford Law School
McKinsey Quarterly, 2004
We often hear that hardly anyone wants to sit on corporate boards these days, largely because they fear personal liability. Our investigation of seven representative countries (Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States) suggests that the liability concern is overdone. Although there are good reasons for outside directors to fulfill their duties diligently, fear of liability should not be one of them. Outside directors face only a tiny risk of paying damages or legal fees out of their own pockets.
This article is a revised and condensed version of Bernard Black, Brian Cheffins, and Michael Klausner, Liability Risk for Outside Directors: A Cross-Border Analysis, European Financial Management vol. 10 (forthcoming 2004), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=557070, which in turn is a summary of two longer papers, Bernard S. Black, Brian R. Cheffins, and Michael Klausner, Outside Director Liability (working paper 2004), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=382422, and Bernard S. Black and Brian R. Cheffins, Outside Director Liability Across Countries (working paper 2003), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=438321.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 11
Keywords: corporate governance, director liability, fiduciary duty, securities law, securities class actions, law and finance, director duties
JEL Classification: G32, G34
Date posted: September 15, 2004