Preserving the Corporate Attorney-Client Privilege as Against Investors

Preserving the Corporate Attorney-Client Privilege as Against Investors

In Hyde Park Undertaking Partners Fund III, L.P. v. FairXchange, LLC,[1] the Delaware Courtroom of Chancery presented a precious reminder to corporations and their directors and officers that a company simply cannot assert a privilege, this sort of as the legal professional-shopper privilege, versus its directors or the investors that appointed people directors in litigation unless 1 of three exceptions are achieved: (1) the parties agree by way of deal, this sort of as a confidentiality arrangement, that the corporation may perhaps assert privilege towards particular administrators and the traders that appointed that director (2) the board of directors varieties a special committee that excludes the director soon after which the committee can seek advice from with counsel confidentially and retain the privilege from the director and the trader that appointed the director or (3) ample adversity of interests has arisen and will become recognized to the director, hence impacting the director’s capability to count on corporate counsel for issues where by the director or the trader that appointed the director and corporation’s pursuits are adverse.


The plaintiffs, stockholders of an acquisition goal, brought match seeking statutory appraisal of their shares, next the concentrate on company’s acquisition by a nonparty. The plaintiffs’ designee served on the target’s board, but was excluded from board conferences following he expressed a want to obtain a market place check to understand the target’s value following receiving a shock give from the acquirer. One particular day after the designee demanded facts in his capability as a director, other stockholders eliminated him from the board by penned consent, and the transaction was accredited. Through discovery of the appraisal proceeding, the enterprise asserted attorney-client privilege more than resources prepared for the duration of the designee’s tenure as a director as from the plaintiff stockholder.

Court’s Analysis

Delaware regulation treats the company and the associates of its board of directors as joint clients for purposes of privileged materials created through a director’s tenure. Joint clientele have no expectation of confidentiality as to just about every other, and one joint client can not assert privilege against a further for functions of communications created throughout the interval of joint illustration. In addition, a Delaware corporation are unable to invoke privilege from the director to withhold information created throughout the director’s tenure. Delaware regulation has also acknowledged that when a director signifies an investor, there is an implicit expectation that the director can share data with the trader.

In this case, the board designee and other board customers were being joint shoppers, and hence, inside of the circle of confidentiality in the course of the designee’s tenure as a director. For the duration of the board designee’s tenure as a director, he received various communications from the organization and its counsel. The company, hence, experienced no expectation of confidentiality from the board designee and can’t assert privilege towards him or his affiliate marketers. The enterprise also failed to carry out any of the three exceptions to asserting privilege versus directors. 1st, there was no contract governing confidentiality of discussions in between the enterprise, its counsel, and the board. Next, the board did not type a transaction committee. 3rd, the board designee did not develop into adverse to the enterprise till following he despatched his publications-and-data request at which position the enterprise was in a position to exclude the director and the trader that appointed the director from the privileged resources.


To assert privilege against sure directors or the buyers that appointed all those directors, a company must comply with just one of the 3 regarded exceptions to the joint client rule: (1) handle privilege and/or confidentiality by means of agreement (2) have the board of directors type a committee that excludes the director or (3) put the director on see of the facts developing ample adversity of passions.