Articles Tagged with california law

AdobeStock_74836089-300x200A corporation can be formed under the laws of any state, so long as the business and its owners qualify for business entity status. Many business owners use these laws to find a state that offers the most tax and legal advantages. (This is why so many businesses incorporate in the state of Delaware.) But it is important to understand that California law can still apply to your business even if it was formed out of state. Be sure to consult with a California business lawyer about the implications of California law upon your business entity.

What is the Pseudo-Foreign California Corporation Statute?

Section 2115 of the California Corporation Code applies to foreign corporations that have connections to California and satisfy the applicable statutory tests. If both of the following tests are met, the corporation is considered “pseudo foreign,” and it is treated as if it had been incorporated in California in the first place.

Of the many challenges faced when starting a business, creation of a company’s bylaws can be one of the more complex, technical, and overwhelming challenges of them all. While daunting, such agreements can protect startup companies from liability in business transactions. A Silicon Valley corporate lawyer can help your business create the bylaws which will best meet your legal needs.

  • Identify the needs of your businessFotolia_104278045_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x169

Before crafting any corporate policy, it is important to determine your goals. Does the policy need to protect the company from legal liability? Reduce operating expenses? Provide clarity for executing important business discussions? Identifying clear goals will allow for bylaws to effectively address such needs. Owners should also be sure to consider both the short and long-term needs of the business. Business, financial, and legal concerns can change over time. Effective bylaws will allow the business to adapt to the dynamic reality of the marketplace.

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are complex business transactions with much on the line.  If a merger or acquisition is not successful, a business can lose substantial assets.  Of course, no one would intentionally enter into an acquisition transaction knowing it would fail; however, reports have indicated that more than half of acquisitions do fail at some point.

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It is important to understand how acquisitions fail, steps to take to prevent failure, and how your business can recover from a failed merger and acquisition.  An experienced California merger and acquisition lawyer from Structure Law Group, LLP can help you understand all aspects of a merger and acquisition and help you prepare for any outcome.

Common Reasons For Failed Acquisitions

Limited liability companies, or LLCs, are one of the various types of business entities from which you can choose when forming a company.  Generally speaking, limited liability companies combine the tax advantages and flexibility of a partnership with the liability protections of a corporation, without subjecting small business owners to the onerous reporting requirements and governance rules associated with corporations.  When forming a limited liability company there are many factors to consider and questions to ask.  The Silicon Valley business attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP have the knowledge and experience to advise entrepreneurs to weigh all options and make the best decisions for the limited liability company now and in the future.

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How Does an LLC Limit Liability?

Like a corporation, a limited liability company is a separate legal and tax entity, meaning that the LLC is separate from the members who manage and operate the business.  And also like a corporation, the LLC, and not the LLC’s owners, will be liable for the LLC’s debts.  For example, if one sues the LLC to recover on an outstanding debt, only the LLC’s assets can be reached.  In other words, an LLC’s members are not personally liable for the LLC’s debts (just like how a corporation’s shareholders are not personally liable for the corporation’s debts).  This is significantly different than a general partnership or sole proprietorship, where the partners or the individual owner, respectively, are personally liable for the debts and obligations of the business.

There are many California requirements for an investor to be a holder in due course.  A holder of an instrument is entitled to enforce the instrument.  However, a “holder in due course” has greater rights under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) and the California Commercial Code (COM) than a holder who is not a holder in due course.  Specifically, a holder in due course takes an instrument free from many of the defenses to repayment that might have been asserted against the original obligee or against another assignee or holder not in due course.  An experienced San Jose business law firm can help business owners and investors understand their rights and requirements in order to be a holder in due course.

There are specific requirements that must be met for an investor to qualify as a holder in due course, including that:

  • The investor takes the instrument for value;

Often, selection and formation of a startup can be stressful and confusing.  But it is not the end of the process.  In order to protect your startup and its status, many steps must be followed to continue to ensure the startup remains in good standing with local and state laws.  The experienced California corporate lawyers at Structure Law Group, LLP can help entrepreneurs and businesses, at any stage of the process, protect and maintain their corporate form.

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Why It Matters

Formation of a limited liability company (LLC) or incorporation of a startup takes time and money to gain the protections offered by the corporate form.  If a business owner fails to maintain the ongoing requirements, the startup’s status may be put in jeopardy, and as a result, can lose the protection offered by the corporate form.  Maintenance of a corporation or an LLC is a continual process, requiring completion of steps to be in compliance with all applicable California state and local laws.

When multiple individuals begin conducting business together, they may have effectively created a partnership, even if they didn’t intend to do so.  Thus, even though partnerships can be formed without the partners actually signing a partnership agreement, the partnership and its partners become subject to state laws governing partnerships.  The California business attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP understand the laws and mechanics required to build a strong foundation for a partnership.  Being careful and meticulous about the partnership formation process can also help to prevent litigation if and when a dispute arises between and among business partners.

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Partnership Agreements

 Although not required under California law, as discussed above, entering into a partnership agreement when forming a partnership is highly recommended.  A partnership agreement is a legally binding contract that, among other things, dictates the roles of the partners and establishes guidelines for management of the partnership.  In addition, partnership agreements set out how potential legal disputes will be resolved.

Section 544 of the Bankruptcy Code, commonly referred to as the “strong arm” clause, gives the bankruptcy trustee the rights of a secured creditor.  This allows the trustee to avoid for the benefit of the debtor’s creditors transfers or obligations that could have been avoided by an unsecured creditor under nonbankruptcy law, provided such creditor exists.  Generally, this allows the trustee to avoid unperfected liens and fraudulent transfers.

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Section 544 of the Bankruptcy Code sets out the strong arm clause in full.  Section 544 provides in relevant part that “[t]he trustee shall have, as of the commencement of the case, and without regard to any knowledge of the trustee or of any creditor, the rights and powers of, or may avoid any transfer of property of the debtor or any obligation incurred by the debtor” that could have been avoided by certain judicial lien holders or bona fide purchasers. The Bankruptcy Code can be confusing and intimidating to some.  An experienced San Jose bankruptcy lawyer can help creditors understand their rights, options and risks not only with the “strong arm” clause, but the entire Bankruptcy Code.

What Claims Can Be Avoided?

Government contracts can be lucrative for many companies, large or small. Often, one company wants to bid on a government contract but needs assistance from another company to fully perform the contracted work. In such cases, the two companies would combine their resources to share the bid and the contract, if awarded.  When this situation arises, it is critical to ensure that the companies have an agreement, a “teaming agreement”, stating how the work set forth in the government contract is to be divided to protect the interests of each business.

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Many teaming agreements involve a large corporation acting as the primary contractor and one or more smaller businesses acting as subcontractors. Smaller businesses naturally want to protect their interests against larger corporate entities with more resources. Preparing bids can be costly and time consuming and can take focus away from other day to day operations of the business.

Unfortunately, the problem is that many teaming agreements have been deemed unenforceable by California state courts. Because a teaming agreement is signed before a contract is awarded and whether it takes effect is dependent upon winning the contract, many courts have stated that teaming agreements are “an agreement to agree” in the future instead of a binding contract. This means that a subcontractor could take the time to prepare a bid and enter into an agreement with a primary contractor, and once the government contract is won by the primary contractor, it could decide to use a different subcontractor, leaving little legal recourse for the subcontractor.

Many considerations go into deciding which legal entity to choose when starting a business. In some cases, as the business grows, it may even want to convert into a different entity type. For example, if it began as an LLC and the owner now plans on seeking angel investment, he/she may consider converting to a corporation. In these situations (formations or conversions), one critical factor to consider is meeting the formalities required for different legal entities.

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When a California business is considering converting its entity type, it should not do so without consulting with an experienced California corporate attorney. In addition to filing conversion documents, there are many internal factors that should be considered and discussed before transitioning (the company’s management structure and capitalization structure, as well as any special voting considerations, are only a few examples).

Now, we will look at some of the similarities and the differences in formalities required for limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations.

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