Forum Home Page [see Broadridge note below]

 The Shareholder ForumTM`

Fair Investor Access

This public program was initiated in collaboration with The Conference Board Task Force on Corporate/Investor Engagement and with Thomson Reuters support of communication technologies. The Forum is providing continuing reports of the issues that concern this program's participants, as summarized  in the January 5, 2015 Forum Report of Conclusions.

"Fair Access" Home Page

"Fair Access" Program Reference


Related Projects 2012-2019

For graphed analyses of company and related industry returns, see

Returns on Corporate Capital

See also analyses of

Shareholder Support Rankings


Forum distribution:

Authoritative review of the foundations of corporate governance



Source: The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, October 12, 2017 posting

Fiduciary Principles and Delaware Corporation Law

Posted by Lawrence A. Hamermesh, University of Pennsylvania, and Leo E. Strine, Jr., Delaware Supreme Court, Harvard Law School, and Aspen Institute, on Thursday, October 12, 2017

Editor’s Note: Lawrence A. Hamermesh is Executive Director of the University of Pennsylvania Law School Institute for Law and Economics and Professor Emeritus at Widener University Delaware Law School. Leo E. Strine, Jr. is Chief Justice, Delaware Supreme Court; Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School; Austin Wakeman Scott Lecturer in Law, Harvard Law School; Senior Fellow, Harvard Program on Corporate Governance; and Henry Crown Fellow, Aspen Institute. This post describes a chapter, entitled Fiduciary Principles and Delaware Corporation Law: Searching for the Optimal Balance by Understanding That the World Is Not, prepared for inclusion in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Fiduciary Law. This post is part of the Delaware law series; links to other posts in the series are available here.

This Chapter, forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Fiduciary Law, examines the principles that animate Delaware’s regulation of corporate fiduciaries. Distilled to their core, these principles are to: give fiduciaries the authority to be creative, take chances, and make mistakes so long as their interests are aligned with those who elect them; but, when there is a suspicion that there might be a conflict of interest, use a variety of accountability tools that draw on our traditions of republican democracy and equity to ensure that the stockholder electorate is protected from unfair exploitation.

After reviewing the evolution and institutional setting of the pertinent Delaware case law, the Chapter details how these principles have emerged in several highly-salient contexts (the business judgment rule, controller freeze-outs, takeovers, and stockholder elections), and demonstrates that the identified principles aim to preserve the benefits of profit-increasing activities in a complex business world where purity is by necessity impossible. Further, the Chapter demonstrates that, even when a stricter approach to fiduciary regulation is warranted because of the potential for abuse, these principles hew to our nation’s republican origins and commitment to freedom in another way: when possible to do so, regulation of fiduciary behavior that might involve a conflict of interest should not involve after-the-fact governmental review, but before-the-fact oversight by the fiduciaries of the corporation who are impartial and, most importantly, by the disinterested stockholders themselves.

The full Chapter is available for download here.


Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation
All copyright and trademarks in content on this site are owned by their respective owners. Other content © 2017 The President and Fellows of Harvard College.



This Forum program was open, free of charge, to anyone concerned with investor interests in the development of marketplace standards for expanded access to information for securities valuation and shareholder voting decisions. As stated in the posted Conditions of Participation, the purpose of this public Forum's program was to provide decision-makers with access to information and a free exchange of views on the issues presented in the program's Forum Summary. Each participant was expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, subject to the privacy rights of other participants.  It is a Forum rule that participants will not be identified or quoted without their explicit permission.

This Forum program was initiated in 2012 in collaboration with The Conference Board and with Thomson Reuters support of communication technologies to address issues and objectives defined by participants in the 2010 "E-Meetings" program relevant to broad public interests in marketplace practices. The website is being maintained to provide continuing reports of the issues addressed in the program, as summarized in the January 5, 2015 Forum Report of Conclusions.

Inquiries about this Forum program and requests to be included in its distribution list may be addressed to

The information provided to Forum participants is intended for their private reference, and permission has not been granted for the republishing of any copyrighted material. The material presented on this web site is the responsibility of Gary Lutin, as chairman of the Shareholder Forum.

Shareholder Forum™ is a trademark owned by The Shareholder Forum, Inc., for the programs conducted since 1999 to support investor access to decision-making information. It should be noted that we have no responsibility for the services that Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., introduced for review in the Forum's 2010 "E-Meetings" program and has since been offering with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.