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Chapter VI turns to the US, where various states developed diverse solutions to shareholder conflict for over one hundred close corporation legal forms. While many US states recognize withdrawal as a solution to majority-minority shareholder conflict in US close corporations, several states have resisted or even renounced withdrawal. The attitude towards LLCs, which are rapidly growing in popularity across the US, is more ambivalent, as state legislatures and judges have been slow to respond to problems of intracorporate conflict and oppression. While the contractarian-led scholarly debate on whether corporate law should be mandatory or default is instructive, the reality that withdrawal is often missing from state LLC statutes is not attributable to state legislatures taking reasoned policy positions. Rather, withdrawal’s absence in LLCs is caused by incentives created by federal taxation policy. There are signs that history moves in circles as withdrawal remedies seem to be (re)emerging in LLCs.
This chapter shows that the book’s core transactional techniques are viable under existing law, and it defends the book’s analysis as a matter of statutory interpretation. It also provides various alternative transactional means to achieve similar goals, both as practical alternatives and to show the conceptual robustness of the book’s main proposed transactional technique.
This chapter lays out a transactional technique by which any existing natural or legal person can create an autonomous organization – specifically, an LLC with zero members controlled, as a matter of internal governance, only by software. The technique works under existing law and can be used with software without regard for the software’s “intelligence.”
Under current business law, it is already possible to give legal personhood, or a very close surrogate of it, to software systems of any kind (from a simple automated escrow agent to a more hypothetical, truly smart artificial intelligence). This means that, for example, robots could enter into contracts, serve as legal agents, or own property. Ultimately, entire companies could actually be run by non-human agents. This study argues that this is not as scary as it might sound at first. Legal theorist and noted software developer Shawn Bayern argues that autonomous or zero-person organizations offer an opportunity for useful new types of interactions between software and the law. This creative contribution to the theory and practice of law and technology explores the social and political aspects of these new organizational structures and their implications for legal theory.
This chapter offers a new explanation for mandatory fiduciary protections in certain business relationships—the preservation of trust that might otherwise be eroded through the bargaining process. Any contract a hypothetical entrepreneur and an investor might enter would inevitably be incomplete and give rise to potential opportunistic behavior. While the parties could draft a more detailed agreement prohibiting various forms of opportunism, the very act of bargaining over these protections could undermine whatever trust existed between the parties at the outset of their relationship. By contrast, a prohibition limiting opportunism in state-imposed fiduciary obligations removes the invocation of distrust by either party to the agreement. Fiduciary protections, however, do not provide a perfect solution in all business relationships. Although fiduciary duties can usefully constrain opportunism and preserve trust in vertical business relationships, such as in a simple principal-agent arrangement, other situations involve complexity that pose challenges for fiduciary law. We illustrate this observation with examples of various horizontal conflicts, or diverging interests, in the venture capital-backed startup context. To the extent that contract and fiduciary law are each incomplete, a residual domain for trust and other mechanisms for risk reduction or self help remains.
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