Articles Tagged with good faith

Corporate officers, partners in a partnership, and members of a limited liability company owe a fiduciary duty to the principal, i.e., the business entity, to act in the best interest of the organization. Failure to act in the principal’s best interest or actively competing against the principal to which a fiduciary duty is owed exposes the fiduciary, the agent of the principal, to civil liability. Care must be taken by the fiduciary not to compete against the organization to which they owe their duty of loyalty. The Silicon Valley Business Attorneys’s at Structure Law Group, LLP are highly experienced in preventing and resolving corporate disputes that may arise from a breach of fiduciary duty.

The foundational tenet of agency law is the duty of loyalty owed by the agent, or fiduciary, to the principal or business entity. The duty of loyalty obligates the fiduciary to act in the best interests of the principal. The duty of loyalty extends to “all matters connected with the fiduciary relationship.”  Thus, the duty of loyalty prohibits fiduciaries from obtaining a benefit from others as a result of the fiduciary relationship. This prohibition extends to all dealings in which the fiduciary is involved on behalf of the principal. The duty to act with loyalty is not limited to financial matters.

The fiduciary’s duty of loyalty encompasses situations involving parties adverse to the principal. The fiduciary has an absolute duty not to act on behalf of a third party whose interests are adverse to those of the principal.  The fiduciary is duty-bound not to compete, either personally or on behalf of, another entity. The agent’s obligations last for the entire duration, and in some instances depending on contract language, last beyond the termination of the fiduciary’s relationship with the principal. However, agency law does provide for the fiduciary to plan and prepare to leave the principal, even to then compete with the principal.  Notwithstanding, the action taken by the fiduciary must not violate any other duty owed to the principal.

In a corporate merger or acquisition, it is important to ensure that both companies involved are on the same page early in the process. Mergers and acquisitions can be complicated and can require costly resources, so it is important to know what each party is prepared to offer before moving forward with the transaction. One way to ensure both parties are on the same page is to draft a letter of intent (LOI), which outlines the deal points of the merger or acquisition and serves as a type of “agreement to agree”.

The LOI should be carefully drafted by the purchasing company and submitted to the selling company and should set out important basic terms of the transaction. This letter is typically not viewed as a binding contract though that does not mean it should not be given careful consideration. When submitting an LOI, the buyer should put forth attractive though realistic terms. If it fails to do so, it could result in a breakdown in negotiations or a later legal dispute if the expectations set out in the LOI were not in good faith. On the other hand, the purchaser should fully realize that an LOI does not represent the final agreement and that the terms of the deal may change after due diligence is conducted. Because of the importance of an LOI to a merger and acquisition, you should always seek assistance from an experienced M&A attorney when drafting, reviewing, or negotiating the letter.

Provisions to Include in a Letter of Intent